The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA strengthens the community in Orange County, North Carolina through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Serving more than 10,000 men, women, and children, regardless of age, income, or background, the Chapel Hill Y strives to nurture children and teens, improve the community’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to deliver lasting change.
As an organization committed to child protection, the Chapel Hill Y learned about Darkness to Light after completing a risk audit. Several YMCA staffers attended a series of D2L workshops and returned home energized and excited to implement prevention programs in their communities. “We believe every child deserves the chance to discover who they are and what they can achieve in a safe and nurturing environment. That’s why the chance to partner with D2L was so important to us,” said Kim Grooms, Executive Branch Director.
Armed with the desire and drive, all the Y needed to do was create a strategy for the initiative on the ground in their community – that is, with limited time and resources.
Grooms, leading by example, implemented the new initiative in addition to her many other duties, gaining momentum and support at every turn, resulting in a truly collaborative effort across the community. “We really wanted to move forward with this, knowing that now is the time to protect kids and we have presence in the community. We couldn’t miss an important opportunity to serve and convene in this way.”
In addition to hosting a series of community awareness meetings that generated energy and excitement, representatives from area schools, the Department of Social Services, law enforcement, University of North Carolina public safety, and other child care providers united to create a local coalition. Through a generous grant from the Oak Foundation, the Y was able to hire a part-time prevention specialist and purchase marketing and training materials. The Y’s strong, established media partners were instrumental in getting the word out to the community. In essence, the community came together to take a stand on protecting children.
In just four months, nearly 400 adults were trained in D2L’s Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training program. And, because the Y serves a large Hispanic population, three bilingual facilitators began training in the community as well. Twenty facilitators of the program meet regularly to share successes and increase training opportunities.
Thanks to the Oak Foundation grant and additional funding from The Redwoods Group Foundation, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Y is able to offer scholarships to provide the training free of charge to the public. In addition to being a model for YMCAs and community organizations everywhere, the Chapel Hill Y is on its way to reaching its goal of training 7,300 adults by 2016 – and changing a community’s culture to better protect children!