KidSafe Foundation provides prevention education to children, parents, teachers and counselors to prevent children from abuse, abduction, bullying and online safety issues. We visit pre & elementary schools and through an 8 week program teach children personal safety life skills through developmentally appropriate curriculum we created – using role play, song, art, discussion and books (we have coauthored two children’s books that we use in our program). Our mission is to empower children with prevention education life skills to become the first line of defense in their own safety. We believe in an integrated approach – with that said we provide a parent seminar, a teacher in-service workshop and camp counselor training. KidSafe Foundation is a nonprofit that was created by Sally Berenzwieg and business partner Cherie Benjoseph.
What inspired you to start your business?
Cherie and I were inspired from two very different events that affected our lives:
Cherie a LCSW working in a middle school has a student come to her with a Dear Abby type letter telling her that her Step father is sexually abusing her. This student showed none of the typical signs of a child in need. The step father was Copresident of the PTA – he went to jail after a long process – the student told Cherie she came forward because he started showing interest in her 7 year old sister (the same age she was when the abuse started) Cherie realized that she wanted to do preventative education instead of reactive education. That children deserve to know they have rights to keep their bodies safe – a version of KidSafe was born…she came to Florida and taught my son at his preschool which is how we met.
My (Sally’s) story – I was a stay at home mom, my son was almost 4 and we had a trusted babysitter with excellent credentials – she didn’t watch my child properly and he walked out of the house and down and across a few streets before being found by a man that was a stranger to him..he was crying the man asked what are you doing? he said looking for my sitter..the man said where do you live? my son told the stranger our street address..the man said “get in my car and I will drive around until we find your house” so my son got in the car with the stranger and thankfully he was a good person and they drove around until my son pointed out our home and he was home safe and sound. My husband and I were beside ourselves and I went looking for a life skills program for our family to go through – I was on the board of my preschool and called the Director told her what happened and she brought Cherie to our school – after the parent seminar I called her and said I believe every child and parent needs this education (after many meetings) we worked together and created KidSafe.
How long have you been in business?
We have been in business for 6 years and became a 501c3 nonprofit in May.
What did you do in your past work life?
I (Sally) have a Master in Elementary Education and a Master in Counseling Psychology – I am a former Psychotherapist and treated women who had been physically and sexually abused.
Cherie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and had worked as MSW and guidance counselor for many years prior to KidSafe
Describe your ideal workday.
Teaching KidSafe – and having each of our 6 teachers at different schools teaching.
What have been some of your major successes?
Curriculum approved by the Palm Beach County Department of Safe Schools – Every new school we sign up – we have not done any marketing it is all word of mouth – so every school that brings us is a major success. We have taught over 12,000 children and lectured to thousands of parents and teachers.
We have received letters from parents – telling us of life changing experience after our programs – with children coming forward and breaking cycle of silence to tell that they have been abused. Becoming a 501c3 nonprofit to fundraiser and grant write to bring our program to more communities.
What have been some of your major challenges?
The major challenge is funding…and scheduling our program.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
Knowing our program can save a child’s life.
Do you have a motivational quote?
I don’t know if we have a quote – Be Educated…Be Informed..Be KidSafe we sign off every correspondence with Working Together to Keep KidSafe!!! –
If there was one piece of advice you could give to your children about running a successful business, what would it be?
Love what you do – be passionate about what you do, give back to the community and everything else will follow.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
We (KidSafe Teachers) are all working moms – we work during the school day so we can be home after school with our children.
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
We use twitter, Facebook, constant contact
What is next for your business?
Our next book – My Body is Special and Belongs To ME! is in the publishing process and hope it will be out by December 2010
We have some huge things coming up….can’t talk about it yet – but stay tuned because it is going to be big!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Give us your two cents sales pitch.
95% of abuse and exploitation of children is preventable through education – Our children deserve the right to be educated to be the first line of defense in their own safety!! –
Worth way more than two cents 🙂
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