A program started at the Collin County Children's Advocacy Center hit a huge milestone last month. "Kids Count Players" has now taught more than 100,000 North Texas children about abuse and how to speak up when something is wrong.
Jane Donovan started the program more than 10 years ago. Donovan, an energetic and passionate advocate for children's welfare and safety, created a program using puppets and songs to talk about sexual abuse with young kids.
"I remember after our first events when I wasn't sure how well everything was working. Then a child came forward and reported abuse. I am so proud of all the kids who have been so brave and spoken up over the years," Donovan said.
For over a decade the program has depended on volunteers, many former and retired educators, who meet at schools. The show lasts 30 minutes quickly moving from one catchy song to the next, all focusing on tough subjects including "good touch, bad touch," and red flags to look out for like any adult who asks a child to "keep a secret."
"I want these kids to know it's never their fault and to know how to share what's going on," Donovan said.
Kids Count Players hit the 100,000 mark at Gunstream Elementary in Frisco. Parents and teachers were amazed by Donovan and her team's ability to keep the attention of children under the age of eight.
By the end of the program, kids were singing along and smiling, the verses full of powerful lessons on boundaries and reporting.
Donovan is getting ready to move from North Texas to be with family in near Austin this summer and says the milestone feels surreal.
Even though she is moving, the program's founder says she's not done with her plans and now has her sights set on expanding the program state and even nationwide -- all with the goal of helping as many children as she can.