BANGOR, Maine — Just like the two main characters in children’s author Arnold Lobel’s book “Frog and Toad Together,” the children at Spruce Run Womancare Alliance’s annual Harmony Camp have a chance to learn several core values this summer — namely valuing diversity, the importance of being a good friend and celebrating uniqueness.
Spruce Run Womancare Alliance is a Bangor-based organization whose mission is to eliminate domestic violence in Maine. Staff spend much of the school year in schools throughout the state talking about the importance of peaceful communities and what it looks like to live without fear.
The messages in the classroom and at the camp are simple, taught through reading books like “Frog and Toad,” making crafts, playing games and other activities. It’s a chance for advocates to talk about communication at a young age, when setting the stage for healthy relationships in the future is paramount, program manager at Spruce Run Womancare Alliance Cindy Freeman Cyr said.
“It helps continue the prevention education taught at schools throughout the school year,” she said. “We create a positive environment organized around [our] core ideas.”
According to a report released earlier this year by The Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, about half of Maine’s 25 homicide cases in 2013 involved domestic violence. The report also recommended that schools offer ongoing education about domestic abuse and dating violence.
It’s a big part of what the organization already does, Freeman Cyr said, explaining that the camp was for all children, not just those who have experienced abusive situations.
“Our prevention education in the schools is really about trying to help people communicate in a healthy way,” Freeman Cyr said. “Once people have the tools to talk about emotions and anger, it helps promote a more peaceful community. Anger isn’t bad, it’s how you communicate about it.”
Harmony Camp last three days and is geared toward children ages 6-9 years old. The cost is $10 and scholarships are available.
The camps run from 9 a.m. to noon and will take place at three locations:
— Dexter Harmony Camp at Knights of Columbus Hall, Dexter, July 15-17
— Greenville Harmony Camp at Union Evangelical Church, Greenville, June 24-26
— Dover-Foxcroft Harmony Camp at Congregational Church, Dover-Foxcroft, July 8-10
For more information, call 564-8165, and visit sprucerun.net to register.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.