Meeting Waters Y offers child sexual abuse prevention workshop

BELLOWS FALLS — Over the next several years, Meeting Waters YMCA leaders hope to train 5 percent of the adult population in its service area in the “Stewards of Children” child sexual abuse prevention workshop.

The organization set off toward that goal on Wednesday, Sept. 17, in Bellows Falls.

Stewards of Children says on its website that child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem children face, with the most serious array of consequences.

“In fact, one in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. This means that whether you work with youth, are a parent, or are simply a member of a community, it is highly likely that someone you know and care for has experienced, or is currently experiencing, child sexual abuse. The good news is, it can be stopped,” the group notes on its website.

Meeting Waters YMCA Program Director Susan Fortier told The Commons she became a certified Stewards of Children workshop leader last spring as part of an initiative of the New Hampshire Alliance of YMCAs.

She added the Y Alliance has partnered with the Granite State Children's Alliance, which oversees Child Advocacy Centers around the state to roll the program out throughout New Hampshire.

As the only Y providing services in both Vermont and New Hampshire, Meeting Waters YMCA is offering Stewards of Children on both sides of the river.

Meeting Waters YMCA Executive Director Steve Fortier says his organization is proud to offer Stewards of Children workshops as its latest community service:

“This is an issue with deep and lasting consequences for our children and our communities. As a community of adults - educators, coaches, parents, childcare providers, youth group leaders, anyone that cares about children - we need to come together, learn about the issue and implement simple, proactive steps to prevent child sexual abuse.”

The first Stewards of Children workshop is being hosted by the United Church of Bellows Falls from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 17. A $10 per-person fee covers the cost of program materials. Financial assistance is available.

Space is limited to 25 participants. The registration form is available at

The Rev. Janice Chilek, pastor at United Church of Bellows Falls, said that the church is honored to have the opportunity to host the program.

“Gaining an awareness of the reality around us and being prepared to react appropriately and timely are lifelong skills. We hope many will join us as we work to make our communities safer places of care and compassion through training and knowledge,” Chilek said.

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