Fair Haven’s journey to educate NWI youth to stay safe

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News

Published on June 06, 2018 with No Comments

Students engage with Shana Robertson in a fun, informative game.

As the school year comes to an end, Fair Haven’s lead educator, Shana Robertson reflects on the lessons she has taught Northwest Indiana’s youth.

Robertson is the voice of “Think First, Stay Safe,” an educational program aimed at teaching students about warning signs of sexual assault.

“We have reached 4,000 students this year alone,” said Robertson. “That is twice the amount of last year and we aren’t even halfway through this year.”

Raquel Mentor and Shana Robertson prepare to teach children how to think first and stay safe.

Robertson believes it was her struggle of trial-and-error with previous programs that led to the current program’s success.

In 2007, after earning degrees in behavioral science and child psychology, she began her path as an educator as part of Fair Haven’s child education team.

“At the time, the program was very outdated and followed the traditional format of speaking to a class for 45 minutes,” said Robertson.

Although the information was important, Robertson believes that the message was not sticking with students.

“We felt that the students weren’t retaining the information our team was telling them,” said Robertson. “We could all tell it was just another presentation they were being forced to sit through.”

While searching for new programs three years ago, Robertson came up with the idea of a week-long retreat in which students could learn in a more interactive manner.

Around this time, Fair Haven also hired a new educator, Raquel Mentor, who saw the potential in this plan and gravitated toward it immediately.

“This seemed like a fresher way of educating children on a subject that is sometimes hard to talk about,” said Mentor.

As Think First Stay Safe continues to grow, other areas in Indiana have started to take notice of the program’s effectiveness. Fair Haven’s educators have been invited to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington and South Bend to spread their message.

“For now, we hope to reach childcare centers to spread the message in the summer,” said Mentor. “We hope to travel in the future. I would love to teach children in Nicaragua.”

The program is currently being offered to schools free of charge and plans on staying that way. Robertson believes no one should have to pay to learn how to protect themselves.

Schools in northwest Indiana have started to notice the effectiveness of the program and weekly slots are filling up. Fair Haven is currently taking registration for the 2018-2019 school year.

To inquire more about Think First Stay Safe and other programs Fair Haven offers, call 219-961-4357 or visit www.asafeport.org.

Fair Haven is a rape crisis center focused on providing services to those affected by sexual violence and trauma.


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