Tom Kress, certified professional coach and founder of Your Power Project, helped parents and guardians acknowledge their individual power at the second Tiger University of the school year, held Oct. 22 at Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort.
Kress presented an overview of Your Power Project, a program he taught during assemblies at all three Frankfort District 157-C schools throughout the week.
The presentations helped build students’ confidence up by equipping them with the knowledge that they are powerful and have voices that are meant to be heard. The presentations also taught sexual abuse awareness and prevention through age-appropriate lessons.
Kress presented daytime and evening sessions to parents and guardians. The district’s Family School Partnership generously funded these sessions and Kress’ presentations to the schools.
For the last four years, the district has provided sexual abuse awareness and prevention in accordance with Erin’s Law, and Kress’ presentations supplemented this education.
Kress began his presentations by asking parents and students, “Who believes they’re powerful people?” He said that most younger students raise their hands, but as students age, fewer hands are raised in response to the question.
“Where we lose our power most is when we judge ourselves and allow others to judge us,” he said in a news release from District 157.
Next, in his presentation, Kress performs a song with uplifting lyrics and a takeaway message that everyone is powerful.
“Associate yourself with the word ‘powerful,’” he said in the news release. “You are the boss of your body. You have the power to say something.”
For kindergartners through second-graders, Kress teaches about the power of the words “no” and “stop” and that it is important for everyone to have a personal hero — an adult that they can talk to whenever they are feeling sad, hurt or upset.
He also teaches that it is not appropriate for children to keep secrets involving adults. He shares that when he was a child, someone hurt him, and he got his power back by telling someone about it.
For third- and fourth-graders, Kress builds on his lesson by also teaching students that their brains are still developing, and it is important for them to have patience with themselves if they have trouble making a decision or understanding their feelings.
He also teaches that is important for students to have bravery to tell someone if they are hurt. He shares that the pain he experienced as a child impacted him for years, preventing him from getting involved in clubs or sports, and affecting his grades.
For fifth- and sixth-graders, Kress teaches students that it is their responsibility to start the conversation with an adult if they have been hurt.
He adds that the sexual abuse he experienced happened over the course of 10 years, and he kept it a secret for 22 years, during which it continued to have a negative impact on his life.
Finally, for seventh- and eighth-graders, Kress includes video clips and information about Erin Merryn’s story.
Merryn is lobbying all 50 states to pass Erin’s Law, requiring sexual abuse awareness and prevention be taught to students.
He also teaches about positive self-talk, and quizzes students on various questions related to their power, their rights and what they would do if they were hurt. He teaches about listening, courage, positive talk, finding opportunities in mistakes, and trusting in oneself.
“To stay powerful, you have to ask for help,” Kress said in the news release. “Seeking the help you want is an act of power. Talking about it helps to heal.”
To parents and guardians, Kress said that the conversation should continue at home so that awareness around the subject of sexual abuse is heightened, and doorways are opened for students to come forward if they need help.