By Jay Meisel
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - Several years ago, a stranger approached a young girl at a park and asked her for help.
Instead of agreeing to help the man, who may have intended on abducting her, the young girl refused and sought help.
Roxanne Bourbonniere, a school resource deputy for St. Lucie County, said the girl knew what to do because she had participated in the rad (resisting aggression defensively) KIDS program, which will be offered again this summer.
"Because of the radKIDS program, she was able to keep her distance and get help," said Deputy Bourbonniere, who is coordinator.
The program will be offered from July 9-13 for children ages 5-7 and from July 23-27 for children ages 8 to 12. All classes will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, 4700 W. Midway Road.
"It's a program to make children aware of the dangers they face and how to keep themselves safe," Deputy Bourbonniere said.
The program teaches children to be aware of the situation around them and potential dangers, she said.
Younger children are taught how to react to strangers and to get away, she said.
The older children are taught physical moves that they could use to protect themselves.
But, Deputy Bourbonniere said, the program is not to teach them to fight, but to "teach them to do something to get away and get help."
The former RAD member who met the stranger at the park knew from what she learned that an adult in that situation should not be asking her for help, Deputy Bourbonniere said.
The children also learn how to respond to bullying and learn water, fire and bicycle safety, she said.
As for water safety, the children learn that anytime they are in any water without an adult present, it's not a safe situation, she said.
They're also warned about horseplay in water and possible consequences, she said.
The classes are limited to 12 to 15 children and registration will be taken until the sessions are full, Deputy Bourbonniere said.
Applications are available at the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office and online at www.stluciesheriff.com/rad_kids.php.
Registration is $20 and then $10 for each additional child. Once a child is registered they can attend future programs through age 12 without having to pay additional registration.