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Up With People crew assist children’s group

Giving back: the Up With People group includes, back row from left, Chelsea Henak, Mat Rowe, Jennifer Brown, Rafael Schneider and front row from left, Vicky He, Delphine De Potter, Lenize Dos Santos and Miguel Samaniego (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

More than 20 participants of the Up With People programme have learnt how to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The cast members of the international goodwill group also assembled 350 training kits for charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets before taking part in the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training on Thursday.

Miguel Samaniego, from the United States, said: “We had about 24 members of our cast representing six different nations. Our general feeling was shock; we couldn’t believe the statistics that surround the issue.”

Mr Samaniego said Up With People was hoping to inspire young people to make a difference in their world and their communities.

“This is a world issue that all community members should take action in,” he added.

“Learning ways to help spot a child who may be being abused or help educate young people on how to prevent it is a way to get people involved. As Scars is run by only a few people, we helped them out with their database and we also made kits that they had to put together.

“In the afternoon, we got trained and were taught about the global issue child abuse is and the different forms. And more importantly, how we can take action to prevent it and raise awareness.”

The training session was facilitated by Scars founder and executive director, Debi Ray-Rivers, and programme manager and facilitator, Danielle Riviere. For Sophie Beck, from Germany, it was an opportunity to gain some valuable experience for the future.

She said: “This is something that really interests me a lot. I want to do this in my future; I want to work in this field and raise awareness about those kind of things.

“It’s important to make this topic not sound like a taboo. I learnt so much at Scars and this will help me in the future as the certificate we got gives you credits for university. When I found out that I was going to go to Scars, I was incredibly happy.”

Ms Ray-Rivers said Scars was “deeply grateful” for the opportunity to spread its message.

“It’s an important message of prevention and awareness that they’ve heard and can take with them to other countries,” she said. “This message should be heard in every country. It’s a global issue and we should all look to save children, reveal secrets and know about prevention.

“If they can spread this around the world, it’s a great thing for children. We want children in Bermuda to be protected and we want children all over the world to be protected.”

The cast members are on the island for two weeks and are participating in various volunteer and educational activities.

They will also be performing four music and dance shows at the Ruth Seaton James Centre on April 28, 29 and 30.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.upwithpeople.org/bermuda