The Santa Project provides educational programs in schools, after-school programs, daycare facilities, etc., for children from kindergarten to third grade.
“Kids today are not the same as kids two years ago,” Vanderpool said. The main reason is technology, such as texting, smart phones, instant messaging, Facebook, My Space, etc.
But Vanderpool also was recently appointed to the board of directors for the Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations. AMECO is made up of 34 different organizations, 10 of which are in Canada, that provides a myriad of services and resources to families suffering from child abuse or abduction.
And, as a member of the Sunrise Rotary, Vanderpool also spoke to the club recently about the AMECO and its programs.
One such program is coming to Cleveland soon. Two Cleveland police officers have been trained in a program called radKids.
“It provides experiential education, including self-defense, home safety planning, increased self-esteem and empowerment, and proper responses to actual situations which a child may encounter,” Vanderpool said. “As of today, they have trained over 250,000 kids and have over 70 documented saves.”
Some other programs include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or missingkids.com, A Child is Missing, netsmartz.org, Code Adam, familywatchdog.us, lostchildren.org/statistics, enough.org, goodtouchbadtouch.com, bullyingstatistics.org, wiredkids.org, and protectkids.com.
“In an abduction, time is of the essence,” Vanderpool said. If a child is not found within 72 hours, the results are usually not good.
AMECO has a program that can send alerts directly to your mobile phone that gets the word out faster in the case of an abduction.
A Child is Missing, for example, provides a phone calling service to law enforcement agencies that can make 1,000 phone calls per minute. Since January 2001, A Child is Missing has made more than 45 million phone calls concerning more than 26,000 cases with almost 900 people reunited as a result, according to the organization.
There are also programs available to help find missing seniors that are suffering from such illnesses as Alzheimer’s through a program called Silver Alert.Programs like Code Adam provide information for businesses to use in training their employees about what to do when a child is lost,” according to Vanderpool. And, as one of the largest child-safety programs in the U.S., it also is offered free of charge, created and named in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh.
In addition, the now familiar Amber Alert program has expanded to Facebook alerts and Child Alert smartphone application allows parents to create a detailed profile of their children that can be sent to officials in case of an emergency
“When it comes to protection of our most precious resources — our children — we can’t have too much education available,” Vanderpool said. “We are available as a resource to the local community on the subject of child safety and rescue.”
Vanderpool also currently is developing new programs to help educate adult caregivers to better keep their young charges safe.
The Santa Project can be reached at P.O. Box 5981, Cleveland, TN 37320, at 614-3379, toll free at 800-719-3257, or emailed at thesantaproject.org or email@example.com.
In other business:
— The Sunrise Rotary Gala will be held June 17 at the Museum Center. The guest speaker will be Derek Dooley, the Vols head coach. In addition to dinner, the gala will features a jazz combo band and both a silent and live auction. The club is currently looking for auction items. For more information, contact Bob Anderson, president of Sunrise Rotary, at 432-0347 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jill Barrett, director of the 10th Judicial Drug Court, was inducted Thursday as the newest member of the Sunrise Rotary club.
— Missing classifications in Sunrise Rotary include: farming, fashion design, firefighting, food technology and forensic science.