Educating children about their body parts is just one aspect of a program available at the Lloydminster Sexual Assault Services (LSAS).
The Body Science program shares information with children from pre-school to 12-years about the different body parts. It is available to children who may or may not have experienced sexual assault and is free.
Of the 347 children and youth under 18-years to come through LSAS this year, 80 of them took part in the Body Science program. That number does not include programming delivered in the schools.
The Body Science program can be done one-on-one or public education can go into a school and lead sessions in the classroom. As well there are resources for parents and caregivers to follow up.
The format is used with the children over six to eight sessions from introduction to naming the body parts and its functions, helping children to identify what’s an “ok” versus “not ok” touch and who are trusted adults in their lives, says Cassidy Shopland who is a crisis interventionist.
“We explore different feelings or sensations that we might have in our bodies. So “not ok” touches might make us feel uncomfortable, sad or scared, whereas “ok” touches make us feel happy, safe and loved.”
Shopland who has been with LSAS for seven-years explains one of the resources they use is education cards that show the different body parts and these are used to help kids separate for example, the difference between feelings of going to the dentist as opposed to inappropriate touching.
“We might have some kids that see the picture of the dentist and think ‘oh that’s not ok because I get scared when I got to the dentist.”
The program is client-centred, explains Shopland and this allows them to be able to adjust sessions when they need to spend more time with a child on topics like personal space and boundaries or feelings and coping strategies.
Shopland sees the benefits of giving educational awareness to children, parents and caregivers.
“Then we can be able to tell if this is typical for my child – you’re going to know when something is not typical for your child. The more that we discuss and ensure that we know the proper names of our private parts, if there was something that unfortunately did happen, then they are able to tell in that disclosure, the proper names of their private parts. So the police are not trying to explore what this word means.”
Shopland adds the program is very interactive and adaptable to kids’ traits so if they gravitate towards arts or body movement, it can be adjusted to suit different needs. Next steps may include the sexual behaviour program, therapy integration, self esteem, bullying, trauma yoga or other programs as required to help them on their journey.
Shopland points out that the design of their building embodies aspects of nature.
“When you see our space, it’s so welcoming and inviting – there is a lot of nature around us. There are a lot of studies that show the benefit of nature on individuals who have experienced any type of trauma – and so to be able to be in this building is really important to us.”
LSAS is planning for their 40th anniversary gala next February. They aim to raise $450,000 to fix the foundation of the building which is home to all their services covering a 200km radius around LLoydminster.
More details can be found on the LSAS website.