Civic Group
Kidpower Santa Cruz County

Kidpower started with a mom protecting her kids — and inspiring others.

Years of service: 31

Leadership: Irene van der Zande, Founder and Executive Director

Their story: In 1985, community organizer and author Irene van der Zande protected a group of young children, including her own, from a man threatening to kidnap them. Although she stopped the man by yelling at him and by ordering a bystander to help, having this experience left Irene with questions such as: “What if he had knocked me down?” “What if I hadn’t been there?” And, “How can I teach my kids to be safe without making them anxious?” Irene’s search for answers led to the inspiration for starting Kidpower. With her leadership, thousands worldwide have contributed their expertise, time, resources, and commitment to develop the exceptional Kidpower curriculum and to establish Kidpower as a global nonprofit leader in safety and prevention education. In 1989, they became an international organization that has gone on to serve over 6 million people across six continents.

Bullying at school and on social media was making my child – and us! – feel upset and helpless. Kidpower replaced our helplessness with tools and strategies for taking charge of safety in new ways, and things are definitely improving!”

— Parentpower Participant