Prepare is recognized for its ability to communicate with young people and tailor its programs so that classes are age-appropriate. Our workshops are designed to empower students and to improve young people’s safety and well-being by lowering risk factors and raising protective factors.
Our school programs continue to grow in scope and number of participating schools. There are many types of schedules available – from intensive one-day workshops of three-six hours to a full semester of curriculum-based programming offered through physical education, life skills, or health education departments.
We teach using a variety of methods including: role-plays, real life stories, small group exercises, and repetitive practice — with layers of progressive challenge.
Prepare emphasizes better communication as the foundation for personal safety. Students can recognize and protect their emotional and physical integrity and gain communication skills to express difficult thoughts and feelings. They learn through success and build confidence in their ability to handle themselves in stressful situations.
Our school partners report a lower incidence in volume and intensity of bullying, teasing, social cruelty, exclusion. Students say they are better able to manage conflict and speak up against bias and stereotypes, and can make smarter choices more often and are more willing to approach adults to ask for help.
- Personal Safety
- Life Skills
- Anti-bias, Anti-bullying
- Communication Skills
Improving the safety of young people includes involving the entire community. Schools maximize the benefit of Prepare school-based programs if all the students in a grade can be educated, along with parents and faculty. This community-wide approach ensures that there is a shared understanding of how and why violence occurs. Everyone shares a common language to discuss uncomfortable situations such as teasing, bullying, peer pressure, drug and alcohol use, and dating.
By training parents and faculty, we create a large number of positive adult role models to reinforce the lessons learned, and who can listen and support students. We believe the best way to keep young people safe is for the adults in their lives to model positive, effective behavior.
Personal Safety and Life Skills Fundamentals
Whether we are teaching 1st graders or 12th graders, the fundamentals of our program include:
- External awareness to the environment – Where am I, what is happening?
- Internal awareness to one’s feelings – How does this person/situation make me feel?
- Threat assessment – Is this situation annoying or dangerous?
- Accessing external resources – Can I find help nearby and/or quickly leave and get to safety?
- Adrenaline/stress – How can I manage physiological arousal and not “shut down?”
- Threat management – What is the best option to keep me safe? Can I move to safety, can I verbally set limits or self advocate? Is physical resistance an option?
- Body boundaries – How close is someone getting/are they breaching the norms of social behavior?
- Emotional boundaries – How is someone “pushing my buttons” or manipulating me?
- Communication skills – How can I use words and nonverbal communication to say what I mean clearly and powerfully?
- Bystander Intervention – How can I access the help of people in the area?
- Allied Behavior – Can I find a way to stand up for others?
Prepare programs follow the recommendations and guidelines of Center for Disease Control, SEICUS, Blueprints for Violence Prevention, Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Gavin de Becker.
Each school has different needs, so please contact us for scope, sequence, pricing and scheduling.
Prepare Programs by Grade Level
Elementary Curriculum (Grades 1 – 4)
At the heart of the Prepare elementary school program is social skills training together with verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Introduction to physical resistance and self-defense skills is encouraged but may be reserved for middle school.
Communication skills with peers includes: understanding of sameness/difference, judging intention, speaking up, and behaving like an ally.
Communication skills with older teens and adults includes: setting body boundary limits with adults who cross physical boundaries (e.g., touch them in a way they don’t like) or who cross emotional boundaries (e.g., try to get them to do something they know is wrong). Also emphasized is how to talk to adults about people or experiences that have made you uncomfortable.
Communication skills for street safety includes: not communicating back to people who make you uncomfortable, how to move to safety to get help from familiar or safe adults, and simple scripts for setting limits and accessing bystanders for help.
In elementary school most children will not be purposefully on their own so the context for the street safety portion of the curriculum are situations when they are accidentally or temporarily separated from their caregiver/parent or that person is distracted (with another child, on the phone, talking to other adults).
Middle School Curriculum (Grades 5 – 8)
Most children will begin middle school with new-found freedom such as walking to and from school alone or with friends. By the end of middle school, young teens will be navigating their environment and social life without any adult supervision. Peer relationships become even more important and young teens begin to experience romantic attraction.
At this juncture, decision making around personal safety intersects with other risk factors such as alcohol, peer pressure, social constructs around gender, class and race.
Concrete “rules” around safety rarely make sense for this age group yet their ability to think abstractly in still under development. Teens are struggling to find their identity and often know the “right” thing to do yet don’t always make the wisest decisions.
In the Prepare curriculum for middle school grades, communication skills and behavior rehearsal continue to be a core emphasis. Through more complex and varied role-plays, exercises, and discussion, students learn to think through options and take action that keeps them and others safer. They learn to think critically about the outside influences that distort good decision-making such as showing off for peers, fear of appearing weak or foolish, and wanting to fit in.
Physical resistance and learning how to navigate and make choices in a “worst case scenario” is part of the comprehensive nature of these workshops.
Experiential learning in realistic contexts
- On the street (walking, bicycling, jogging)
- Public transportation (buses, subways, commuter trains, airports)
- Taxi cabs and private car services
- At home and at parties
- Public places with peers (park, restaurant, store, concert)
- Summer camp, retreats, traveling with sports teams, work settings
- Private places such as bathrooms or locker rooms.
Walk the Talk Anti-bias, Anti-bullying program
Participants learn to speak up and take action against bias, social cruelty, bullying, and exclusion. The Walk the Talk curriculum focuses on:
Self Awareness and the cultivation of a positive self-concept and group identity
Critical Thinking about bias and stereotypes and their impact on relationships and communities
Skills to set boundaries and communicate powerfully and respectfully
Courage to address social cruelty and exclusion and to advocate for each other as allies in creating a caring and inclusive school culture.
Upper School Curriculum (Grades 9 – 12)
By the time students are in upper school, violation and violence are no longer “things that happen to other people.” Students often have firsthand exposure as targets of (or as a witness to) muggings, sexual violation, racist, sexist, homophobic/transphobic slurs, relationship abuse, and experimentation with alcohol/drugs, street harassment, and pornography. In addition, media influences can create pressure on teens to imitate risky behavior.
Upper school students are more fluid in their abstract thinking and can engage in larger explorations of the social context for violence as well as the influence of peers and societal norms. Prepare® classes offer a safe environment with adult guidance as students examine the intersection of topics – such as gender, drugs and alcohol use, and the roots of violence – with vulnerabilities and protective factors.
Strong communication and assessment skills become even more important as they face more complex situations. Prepare classes respond by introducing a wider variety of verbal and physical skills to manage challenging or dangerous experiences, including gendered violence.
Upper school classes include the same contexts from middle school. For juniors and seniors, we add college and workplace settings.
Prepare Programs for Faculty and Parents
Prepare Introduction (1 – 2 hours)
Provided free as a part of all school programs, this presentation explores the research behind Prepare’s teaching philosophy, our pedagogy, and ways adults in the community can reinforce the messages from class. We overview the role-plays covered for each grade and review opportunities to integrate Prepare with other academic curriculum.
Prepare Experiential Workshop (2 – 3 hours)
Faculty and administrators and/or parents rehearse the same role-plays and learn the same skills as the students do, set in an adult context. This serves as a great staff or personal development program, helps everyone appreciate the challenges and accomplishments of the students, and gives more adults in the community the ability to support young people through the Prepare® class experience and beyond.
Prepare’d Parent, Educator & Caregiver Workshop (3 – 4 hours)
This program is geared towards educating adults so they can help keep kids safer. Created in collaboration with a child psychotherapist and social worker, the workshop is designed for parents, teachers, coaches or other adults who engage with children (especially young kids). The class addresses replacing myth with fact. Further, it demonstrates ways to improve risk assessment and intuition skills, and teaches adults how to model and teach children to help them build protective factors and reduce vulnerabilities.
Participants practice interactive verbal exercises and problem solving scenarios, including how to have challenging conversations with kids and with other adults. This short but impactful program teaches skills you can put into use immediately to improve your interaction with children and help advocate for them.
Prepare Comprehensive Experiential (12 – 16 hours) IMPACT Basics class
This comprehensive program offers training in a range of personal safety skills, including:
- psychological, physiological, and mental readiness – adrenaline management, problem solving under stress;
- threat assessment and threat management – predicting violence and aggression, avoidance options, verbal strategies, and physical resistance techniques; and
- verbal and non-verbal communication skills to handle conflict, boundary violations, inappropriate behaviors, and unwelcome touch.
All skills are practiced in interactive scenarios with instructors and everyone receives one-on-one coaching. Physical skills are practiced full contact, full force against padded instructors trained in recreating common harassment and assault scenarios. Participants learn how to shorten the “freeze” response to fear and danger, assess and respond quickly to a confrontation, manage the effects of adrenaline, and act with intention to protect their lives and safety.