Students’ Fund of Hope provides new abuse prevention curriculum to Flat Rock-Hawcreek

HOPE – Flat Rock-Hawcreek is believed to be among the first Indiana school corporations to adopt a new abuse prevention curriculum.

Titled “Safer, Smarter Schools,” the curriculum is intended to empower children and teach them they have the ability to protect themselves from abuse, said Alisha Lewis, director of the Johnson County-based nonprofit “Strive To Make An Impact.” Her organization works to increase awareness about sexual abuse, seek prevention through education and to advocate for abuse survivors,

The lessons were developed by Lauren Book, who has a master’s degree in community psychology and is a sexual abuse survivor, Lewis said.

Book, who is also a senator in the Florida Legislature, utilized a team of career educators, as well as a developmental psychologist, to develop the curriculum.

“Safer, Smarter Schools” includes five to eight, 30 minute age-appropriate lessons for children from pre-kindergarten through high school. While not well-known throughout all of Indiana’s 92 counties, these lessons have become a mandatory part of education in Florida’s public schools, Lewis said.

While Flat Rock-Hawcreek may be the first corporation to use “Safer, Smarter Schools” at all schools, it may not be the only one. That’s because the evidence-based curriculum satisfies requirements of a 2017 state law calling for schools to develop models for response policies regarding child abuse and child sexual abuse, as well as reporting procedures.

Efforts to obtaining private funding for the curriculum was led by the Students’ Fund of Hope, which was founded last year by Hope residents Whitney Budd and Stephanie Long. Their charity was created to raise money to pay school-related expenses for Hope children from financially-disadvantaged families.

To purchase the curriculum, the Students’ Fund obtained $1,000 from the Roger and Lori Eng Gift and Endowment Fund, $1,300 from Lewis’ nonprofit and invested $1,300 of their own money, Budd said. All the materials were presented to the school district on Friday, she said.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.