Kidpower International is the global nonprofit leader in providing emotional and personal safety skills education. Since 1989, we have served millions of people of all ages, abilities, cultures, beliefs, identities, and walks of life worldwide through our live online and in-person workshops, educational resources, and partnerships.

Our Areas of Expertise

Our programs and curriculum are highly recommended by educators, mental health professionals, health care providers, public safety experts, martial artists, and parents for being effective, empowering, trauma-informed, culturally relevant, age-appropriate, adapted for different abilities, and tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of our participants.

Bullying and Harassment Prevention

Most bullying, including adult-to-adult bullying, can be stopped or prevented when everyone involved learns and uses core social-emotional safety skills. We teach:

  • Social-emotional safety skills to be safe from bullying and cyberbullying at all ages
  • Effective strategies for addressing disagreements, social aggression, including ‘badmouthing’, ‘backstabbing’, and gossip
  • Safety leadership strategies for adults to ensure that everyone in their homes, schools, and workplaces is safe from bullying and harassment
  • Positive intervention and coaching skills to guide those using bullying behaviors to replace them with pro-social behaviors
  • Strategies for families, schools, organizations and companies to create safe, respectful, and inclusive cultures that promote healthy, positive communication and that prevent harassment and other behaviors that target, isolate, distance, limit, or call out others result of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, body size, ability, age, or other actual or perceived identities.

We provide tailored support for dealing with specific types of bullying such as social aggression, cyberbullying, adult-to-adult bullying, and prejudice-based bullying and harm.

Use our bullying prevention resources – and learn more about our preK-12 SEL school programs and curriculum.

Learn Online with our workshops and resources – or contact us about your needs!

Child Abuse Prevention

To help keep children and teens safe from abuse, including sexual abuse, Kidpower teaches parents, educators, and other caring adults:
  • child protection strategies to recognize and stop potentially abusive behavior.
  • clear age-appropriate safety lessons they can teach young people without scaring or confusing them.
  • coaching strategies to give young people practice using skills and strategies in positive ways that reduce anxiety and increase confidence and competence.
  • how to be a safe adult to come to for help and what to do if this happens.

To protect the young people in your personal or professional life from abuse and other harm, see our:

Our abuse prevention trainings and resources include extensive boundary setting practice because boundaries are a powerful prevention tool – and, they are also powerful skills for strong, healthy relationships! See Kidpower Skills to Persist in Protecting Personal Boundaries Through the 5 Levels of Intrusion™

We provide live online Workshops for All Ages worldwide.

Kidpower is an Erin’s Law child abuse prevention recommended resource.

Intimate Partner Violence Prevention

To prevent dating/domestic violence and to help people replace harmful behaviors with safer behaviors to support safe, healthy intimate relationships, we teach skills for:

  • setting, recognizing, respecting, and upholding boundaries
  • expressing, withdrawing, and respecting consent
  • managing emotional triggers in order to think clearly and make wise choices
  • staying safe in the face of verbal and emotional attacks
  • assessing situations and thinking first before acting
  • moving away from trouble emotionally, physically, and digitally
  • making safety plans

Related resources include:

Visit our Dating/Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention resource page for more.

Employee Wellbeing and Safety

The positive communication and emotional safety skills we teach transcend language and culture and help employees and their families to:
  • Increase resilience
  • Protect mental health
  • Add joy and purpose to our lives
  • Transform fear into confidence

Our tailored programs include how to:
  • Prevent and solve common workplace problems with customers, colleagues, and managers
  • Improve teamwork and manage conflicts successfully
  • Protect and empower themselves and their families
  • Use emotional and personal safety skills and strategies on a daily basis to protect employee safety and prevent employee attrition resulting from safety concerns related to arriving early, navigating parking lots and other public spaces, working late, or traveling to and from work.
  • Address harassment, bias and discrimination respectfully and assertively
  • Create safe, respectful, and inclusive workplace cultures to promote healthy, positive workplace communication

Learn more about arranging a workshop for your group – or contact us!

Online Safety and Digital Citizenship

Technology changes, but Kidpower’s core principles for safety with people are timeless, preparing people of all ages for safety online. We teach:

  • Awareness to prevent problems before they start
  • Assessment to avoid, de-escalate, or end unsafe situations
  • Moving away from trouble emotionally and digitally
  • Boundary setting to stop unwanted attention
  • Disengaging to leave activities skillfully
  • Assertive advocacy to get help with safety problems
  • Safety planning for individuals and for groups of peers online together.
  • Emotional safety to stay safe, calm, and effective in the face of threats, harassment, intimidation, peer pressure, bullying, or other emotional attacks.

To be safe online, youth need caring adults involved in their online lives.

Without adult guidance, youth online are more vulnerable to abuse, coercion, bullying, manipulation, and other harm. This is true even for digital natives more skilled with technology than their adults. See:

We provide live and recorded Workshops for All Ages about protecting safety online worldwide.

Respectful Relationships and Positive Communication

Developing safe and strong relationships helps to reduce isolation, increase resilience, protect mental health, and add joy and purpose to our lives.

Positive communication and effective boundary-setting skills are at the heart of respectful relationships.

We coach people to be successful in rehearsing how to use these skills in handling real-life relationships though tools such as:

To learn more, see our Skills For Safe and Strong Relationships Resource Page.


Real fights are dangerous, both physically and potentially legally.

We teach people as soon as they are able to understand how to:

  • Recognize the Pattern of an Attack
  • Move away respectfully and powerfully from someone who is trying to bother them or who seems to be acting irrationally
  • Manage their emotional triggers and de-escalate confrontations as much as possible rather than having arguments turn into fights
  • NOT fight over their property, over insults, or to get revenge
  • Not let embarrassment stop them from yelling
  • Give orders to bystanders
  • Use their bodies to hit and kick to escape from someone who is grabbing or hurting them.
  • Leave and get help as soon as they can

We believe that fighting should be a last resort, when someone is about to injure you or someone in your care and you cannot leave and you cannot get help.

We have more than three decades of experience in adapting physical self-defense skills for people of different ages and abilities including children from about age six and up through older adults– including people with low vision; people who are deaf/hard of hearing; people who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and other mobility tools; and neurodiverse people representing a broad range of cognitive abilities.

Educational resources include:

Preventing Prejudice-Based Harm

We provide services for people who face harmful prejudice and discrimination for the ways that they are different that help them to take charge of their wellbeing.

We adapt for specific issues, such as: 

Adapting for All Abilities

Since 1989, Kidpower’s experiential, strengths-based approach has made our social-emotional safety skills accessible for adults, teens, and children with diverse physical, cognitive, developmental, and neurological abilities.

Working together with students – and often with parents, caregivers, educators, service providers, and other allies – we focus on people’s unique capacities and intelligences as well as on the strengths of their communities, cultures, and families.

Our expert blend of listening, teaching, adapting, and success-based practicing has proven to be highly effective building skills and confidence people can use right away to be safer and to strengthen relationships of all kinds.

Learn more about Our Power to Adapt!

Start learning, sharing, and teaching skills yourself now with our Resources – including the many captioned videos and practice guides in the free, self-paced Safetypowers Course, which designed to make our safety skills more accessible for people with communication challenges.

Kidnapping Prevention and Stranger Safety

Instead of using fear to teach about danger, we make it fun for children and teens to learn and practice skills for staying safe everywhere they go – at home, at school, in public, online, and in their communities.

To prevent and stop kidnapping and abduction, we teach adults how to:
  • Recognize and avoid potentially unsafe situations
  • Protect children and teens in their care until they have enough knowledge, skills, and experience to take charge of their own wellbeing.
  • A five-step process for preparing older children and teens to become more independent while still staying safe.

We teach Safety in Public and Stranger Safety skills and strategies that prepare young people and adults to:
  • Stay Aware so they can notice when someone might be acting unsafely in-person or online.
  • Have a Safety Plan for how to get help everywhere they go.
  • Move Away from trouble and Get Help sooner rather than later.
  • Check First and/or Think First before they give personal information to a stranger; open their door to someone they don’t know well; let a stranger get close to them; take anything from a stranger (even their own things); or go anywhere with someone unless that was the plan.
  • Get help in emergencies.
  • Use their voices and bodies to escape from an assault.

We teach physical self-defense skills in our online and in-person workshops to use as a last resort for escaping from an attack until you can get to safety.

To learn more, see:
Stranger Safety – Assault and Kidnapping Prevention
To learn more, see Who We Serve and evidence-based research.

 Our international team - a tapestry woven by many hands

 Meet the people who make our services possible!

Leadership Team

April Yee

Board President and
Holistic Self-Care Coach

April Yee has been Kidpower International's Board President since 2014. She first started by working for Kidpower when she was a student. She is now Holistic Life Coach who helps many people overcome obstacles to achieving their goals in life. April is a former Kidpower instructor and a long-time donor and supporter. In addition to her dedicated leadership of the Board, April shares her transformational self-care expertise with Kidpower.

Irene van der Zande

Executive Director, Founder,
and Primary Author

Since establishing Kidpower in 1989, Irene has led the creation of programs, writing of curriculum, training of instructors, and establishment of centers. She is an inspiring, passionate, and entertaining speaker, trainer, and storyteller who is a master at preparing people to transform problems into successful practices; to take charge of their safety and wellbeing; and to develop joyful relationships that enrich their lives. She is the author of numerous publications that bring Kidpower’s time-tested life-changing skills into the hands of children, parents, and professionals worldwide.

Marylaine Léger

International Program Director
& Online Learning Center Director

Marylaine has been with Kidpower since 1996. She is Kidpower International's International Programs Director, which includes leading the development and implementation of our Online Learning Center. She is the producer of the Safetypowers course and many other courses as well as a presenter in several courses.  She is part of the Curriculum and Training Team and a Senior Program Leader. She is also the Québec Center Director:  Pleins Pouvoirs KIDPOWER Montréal

Erika Leonard

Community Education Director
and Trainer

Erika started with Kidpower in 1995 and currently serves as the Community Education Director for Kidpower International. She's a key leader on our social media, website design, and special initiatives development teams. Erika also serves as our California Program Director and manages and supports our services and instructors throughout the state. She is a member of the Kidpower International Curriculum Development Team, an International Training Team member, and a Senior Program Leader.

Ellen Frankel

Senior Program Leader and Board Member

Ellen discovered Kidpower in 2011 when she participated with her son in a self-defense workshop. After training as an instructor and then coordinating hundreds of workshops, she now serves as a very involved Board member who provides a tremendous amount of help and leadership with important organizational projects. Ellen has opened many important doors for Kidpower and provides organizing and marketing support to our Espanol team members.

Curriculum & Program Development Team

Amanda Golert

Course Developer, Artist, Senior Program Leader & Sweden Center Director
Amanda has been with Kidpower since 1998. She is part of the Kidpower International Curriculum and Training Team and a Senior Program Leader, as well as the Director of Kidpower Sweden.
She is the artist and editor for most Kidpower publications, including the Workbooks in our Online Learning Center and a presenter in many courses.

Maryjane (MJ) Hayes

Course Developer, Trainer,
& North Carolina Center Director

MJ has been a member of the Kidpower team since 2001, when she started volunteering because she wanted to help kids have a safer childhood than she did. She became a Senior Instructor for our Colorado Center and then joined our International Training Team. She is now our North Carolina Center Director and provides support to new Center Directors in other places. She developed our pilot Online Classroom Lessons and is supporting the growth of our Safetypowers Program.

Amy Tiemann, Ph.D.

Senior Program Leader and Trainer

Amy is a Stanford-trained neuroscientist, experienced educator, and best-selling author. She founded Kidpower North Carolina in 2007. Amy co-authored with Irene their book, Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels. She also co-developed with Irene the Full Circle Safety Online Program for K-12 Educators. As a major supporter and wise advisor, Amy is deeply dedicated to helping Kidpower to continue to grow and thrive.

Avery Holmes

Course Developer

Avery is a Kidpower native and trained as an instructor in 2015. He is currently in the Zoology PhD program at the University of Glasgow. After producing the Kidpower Shorts video series, he is now leading the production of the Pridepower Safety Skills online course.

Maryse Postlewaite

Board Member and
Conflict Resolution Trainer

After over 35 years as a Montessori classroom teacher, Maryse is now a Conflict Resolution Trainer and Consultant. She works with adults and children to increase connection, enhance collaboration, increase genuine communications, and better manage conflicts. She has been a presenter at numerous national and international conferences. In addition to being a very committed Board member, she shares her Conflict Resolution expertise with Kidpower.

Claire Laughlin

Board Member &
Organizational Leadership Trainer

Claire started with Kidpower in 1989 by assisting in the office when she was a student. Since then, she has become an accomplished communications and leadership trainer for large businesses, government agencies, and organizations. She served as Board Vice President for many years and is a major supporter. Claire shares her expertise with Kidpower through her Transformational Leadership and Coaching for Excellence programs.

Español and Latin America Team

María Gisella Gámez
Senior Program Leader and
Argentina Center Director

Gisella is a professional translator of English and Italian to Spanish and an experienced self-defense instructor. She has been translating Kidpower books and resources since 2009 and has been the director of the Argentina Center since 2012 and is now training instructors in Cuba. She provides online training, teaching videos, and course development for Spanish-speaking people worldwide.

 Ana Fernanda Uribe
Instructor and Ecuador Center Director

Ana started her training with Kidpower in 2019 and is now the Ecuador Center Director. She loves teaching programs in person and online to children, parents and other adult caregivers everywhere. She presents skills and creates role plays for the videos in our online courses and helps with translating Kidpower resources into Spanish.

Roxana Marroquin
Instructor and
Guatemala Center Director

Roxana is a teacher who also supports children in their learning at home. She loves how quickly and easily children learn the skills of Kidpower. Roxana has been with Kidpower since 2014 and is the Director of Kidpower Guatemala. She is passionate about making instructional videos with the Semillas de Seguridad Team and keeping people informed through social media.

Zaida Torres
Board Member and
Communication Specialist

Zaida first brought Kidpower to Mexico in 2009 and now serves on our Board. She has trained thousands of children, educators and parents in schools and communities in Guadalajara, and has represented Kidpower on national television and in presentations for women’s leadership.

Special Advisors & Presenters

John Luna-Sparks, L.Ac.,
Dipl. OM, LCSW

Board Member & Trainer
Licensed Acupuncturist
and Clinical Social Worker
Cornelia Baumgartner
Senior Program Leader, Trainer and Founder of Kidpower New Zealand
Jared Hayes, MBA
Senior Instructor and Video Co-Presenter
Marc Meilleur
Senior Program Leader, Trainer
and Video Co-Presenter
Susan Lombardo
Safetypowers Advisor and Instructor
Jennifer Huffman
School Classroom Video Presenter
and Instructor

Kiona Medina
Instructor and Video Presenter

Technical Support Team

Beth McGreevy
Kidpower Web Communications Director & Senior Program Leader

Beth has been helping Kidpower widen its online reach since 1992.  Beth’s extensive research and ongoing technical support has been essential in the establishment of the Kidpower Online Learning Center.

Eamon Saki
Kidpower International Technical
& Office Manager

Eamon has been with Kidpower since 2014. He provides extensive technical expertise to develop and improve our Online Learning Center and courses, including video design and editing.
Mackenzie Mitchell
Kidpower International Technical
& Office Specialist

Since 2019, Mackenzie has provided help both with editing videos and with the technical part of designing courses in our Online Learning Center.
Colin Léger Meilleur
Kidpower 'Born & Raised' and
Technical Support

Colin calls himself a 'Kidpower Kid', having grown up with Kidpower skills. He provides help in editing videos, captioning, with the technical part of designing courses, and acting out role plays used in our courses.

Learn more about Kidpower International Board of Directors and our US & International Centers

Explore our online courses now!

Learn skills to protect and empower yourself, your family, and your community