By USA Swimming | Thursday, January 31, 2019
USA Swimming will host its biennial Safe Sport Leadership Conference beginning Thursday, Jan. 31 and running through Friday, Feb. 1, in Colorado Springs. The theme of this year’s conference is 360 Degrees – A Holistic Approach to Abuse Prevention in Sport.
It marks the fourth time USA Swimming has held this event since it launched in 2013.
“The purpose of the conference is to provide a forum for professional development in the field of abuse prevention in sport,” USA Swimming Safe Sport Director Abigail Howard said. “When the conference was initiated in 2013 there was a void in this particular space, and so USA Swimming saw that as an opportunity to take a leadership role in establishing an educational opportunity for its membership and the NGB community.”
The purpose of the conference is for attendees to recognize that no matter who they are, or where they are in the world of youth sports, they have a responsibility to keep kids safe. More than 150 people have registered for this year’s conference, 75 percent of whom are USA Swimming members. The rest are from other National Governing Bodies, and organizations such as the U.S. Olympic Committee, Safe Sport and USADA.
“The flow of the conference is designed to have attendees learn from the experts in the field,” USA Swimming Education and Curriculum Manager Maggie Vail said. “We want attendees to feel educated, equipped and empowered to go implement safe sport in their home communities.”
Educated. Equipped. Empowered.
Those are the three main points Vail wants each attendee to take away from this conference.
What does that mean? Vail explains:
Educated: “We want them to hear from experts in child abuse prevention and response, learning the facts of abuse and grooming behaviors, and learning what the different roles are in preventing abuse.”
Equipped: “We want them to leave equipped with tools they can use in their home communities. Whether they’re a coach, or whether they’re an LSC rep, they are equipped with strategies and tools from our different speakers to have conversations with the members of their communities about how we come together to keep kids safe in our communities.”
Empowered: “We want them to leave empowered in their role. That they really feel like they not only have a responsibility, but a privilege to care for kids who participate in their programs.”
USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey and U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland will open the conference Thursday night.
Presentations and speakers include:
Choosing Courage: Nurturing a Culture of Child Safety through Leadership
Speaker: Katelyn N. Brewer, Darkness to Light
As President & CEO of Darkness to Light, the nation’s leading advocate for the prevention of child sexual abuse, Katelyn N. Brewer’s expertise in transforming organizational cultures, achieving programmatic scale, and implementing behavior change communication lends invaluable insight to the larger conversation of child protection as a collective adult responsibility. Since 2016, Katelyn’s leadership has resulted in exponential growth in programmatic reach and increased standing as a chief influencer in the space of child safety. Through education, advocacy, and research - and with nearly 10,000 volunteers and 1.7 million educated across 23 countries - Darkness to Light continues to revolutionize the way society keeps children safe from abuse.
What We See in the Trenches: Grooming and Predatory Behavior
Speaker: Mo Basenberg & Deb Paton, Safe Passage
Maureen “Mo” Basenberg is the Executive Director of Safe Passage Children’s Advocacy Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Prior to joining the team at Safe Passage she served as Director of Child help Children’s Center in Phoenix, AZ from 2007 to 2016. While there she led one of the 10 largest children’s advocacy centers in the country as well as oversaw a mobile advocacy center and a sister rural CAC program. From 1999 to 2007 Mo served in the Arizona Governor’s Office providing oversight and support to grantees across Arizona. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology and Theater from Grand Canyon University and a master’s in Public Administration from Arizona State University.
Deb Paton is the Director of Forensic Services at Safe Passage Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). In addition to overseeing the direct services of the center, she is also a forensic interviewer who testifies regularly as an expert in this area. She has served Safe Passage for 10 years. Before joining Safe Passage, she worked as a Lead Diversion Officer at the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for 13 years. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Colorado College and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver.
Kidpower: Child Advocacy in Action
Speaker: Jan Isaacs Henry, Kidpower of Colorado
Jan Isaacs Henry co-founded Kidpower in Colorado in 1994 and continues as its Executive Director. Kidpower of Colorado is part of Kidpower International, a nonprofit global leader teaching child protection, advocacy, and personal safety skills to prevent bullying, abuse, abduction, and other violence. Kidpower of Colorado is the largest of the worldwide Kidpower centers outside of California and has trained more than 53,000 people. Prior to establishing the Colorado center, Jan was a psychotherapist for two decades specializing in the treatment of sexual abuse and trauma. Jan received the Lohman Award for “Excellence on Behalf of Children” from the El Paso County Bar Association and the Woman of Influence Award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal for her work with Kidpower.
The Resilient Soul
Speaker: Matthew Sandusky, Peaceful Hearts Foundation
Matthew Sandusky, Founder and Executive Director of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, was a victim of childhood sexual abuse from the age of 8 to 17 at the hands of his adopted father, Jerry Sandusky. Through his work with Peaceful Hearts, Matthew raises awareness around child sexual abuse in local communities, supports the life-saving work of children's advocacy and sexual assault treatment centers, and advocates for legislative changes. He is working with other advocates to implement an in-school curriculum to empower children to use their voices as a first line of defense, along with parents and teachers.
Empathy, Connection, and Resilience: Creating top overall players and mentors
Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Freed, AHA!
Jennifer is the co-founder/director of the highly successful teen program called AHA!, which serves more than 5,000 families annually in the state of California. AHA! trains teachers, parents, and youth how to be safe, seen, emotionally connected and celebrated. Dr. Freed's work has been featured in the New York Times, Fox Television, GOOP, NPR, and Forbes. As a former college athlete Jennifer is particularly passionate about the overall well-being of mentors and players in sports.