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Somerset County YMCA - HomeFor Youth Development; For Healthly Living; For Social Responsibility
Programs_Darkness to Light
Keep every child safe


At the Y, the safety of the children and families in our care is always our top priority, whether at camp, in child care and after school programs, or in any one of our branches.

Throughout the course of a year, Somerset County YMCA employs nearly 1,000 qualified and talented full and part-time staff. Each person is carefully screened and a thorough background check is completed. All Y staff are trained in the identification and prevention of child abuse.

Additionally, Somerset County YMCA integrates a commitment to child safety in its program offerings to the Y community. This includes child abuse prevention, water safety, and youth mental health first aid — all designed to help each and every child fulfill their potential.

Somerset County YMCA

Child Abuse Prevention

  • 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  • In 90% of cases, the child knows and trusts the abuser.
  • 1 in 5 children are sexually assaulted while on the Internet.
  • Survivors of child sexual abuse have a higher likelihood of psychological disorders, excessive drug and alcohol use, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies, and violence.

Through Darkness to Light the Y had committed to bringing an online Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention training to our communities. The training is designed to educate adults on how to recognize, prevent, and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse, emphasizing child safety is every adult’s responsibility. Click the button below to learn more about this important training.



Child Water Safety

71% of the World is Water. Children Are 100% Curious.

Knowing how to swim is not a luxury; it is a necessity. The YMCA’s free Safety Around Water swim program can help you make sure your children learn essential water safety skills, which can open up a world of possibilities for them to satisfy their curiosity safely.

  • 4-week swim program, Fridays, May 5, 12, 19 & 26
  • 30-minute class, once per week
  • Ages 3-5 years and 6-10 years
  • Free program for non-swimmers who have not participated in any Y swimming programs

For information, contact the Aquatics Director at your branch.


This free 4-week water safety course (every Friday in May), taught by a certified instructor, teaches children two sets of skills that will reduce the risk of drowning and give them confidence in and around water. A typical session includes:

  • Exercises to help children adjust to being in water
  • Instruction in “Jump, Push, Turn, Grab” and “Swim, Float, Swim,” two skill sets children can use if they unexpectedly find themselves in the water
  • An activity that teaches children about specific safety topics such as pool rules and boating safety
  • A fun game to encourage comfort and activity around water

Each swim lesson includes a handout for parents and caregivers with additional water safety tips for kids.


Drowning can happen nearly anywhere with standing water. But, as a parent or caregiver, you can’t keep your children sidelined. You need to equip them with the tools they need to be confident in and around water so they don’t lose out on the health benefits of exercise, the opportunities to bond with family and friends and the sense of accomplishment when they learn new skills.


Safety Around Water is free to participants. It is open to anyone in the community who wants their children to learn how to be safe in and around water.

Youth Mental Health First Aid


Reducing the stigma associated with Mental Health isn’t easy, but we are committed to making strides. In collaboration with other local organizations, the Y has taken a leadership position to offer ongoing, sustained education to the community in hopes of reducing the stigma of mental health, building awareness, and connecting people to the appropriate mental health care providers.

MHFA is an evidence-based, public education program certification course that helps participants recognize, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.


This interactive 8-hour course presents the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, substance use and suicide. Participants learn a core five-step action plan to support an adolescent developing signs and symptoms of mental illness or in an emotional crisis. The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents, but may also be appropriate for mature teenagers (16 and older). Anyone who regularly works or interacts with youth at home, at work or in the community will benefit from becoming a certified Mental Health First Aider.

Somerset Hills YMCA contact:

Lynne Applebaum -  908 766 7898, 522 or via webmail

Somerville YMCA contact:

Kate Russo -  908 722 4567 or via webmail


Blog Posts

Every Kid Matters

by Cristina E. Williams, Director of Digital Media, Somerset County YMCA | Apr 27, 2017
Every Kids Matters

Why everyone should care about child sexual abuse prevention every day and how you can help

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and in partnership with YMCA of the USA, Somerset County YMCA is joining Ys across the country in taking Five Days of Action from April 24-28 to help prevent child sexual abuse. Keeping children safe is a responsibility that belongs to every adult in the Y community and beyond – every day. In fact, for hundreds of years members of the Y have worked to cultivate a culture that promotes child safety, one of our areas of focus. It is of no surprise that the Y is recognized as a safe space nationally and internationally. But talking about child sexual abuse prevention can be uncomfortable for many parents and guardians of young children; however, it is important to understand that in these roles, you are vital in protecting the most vulnerable among us. 

DrSeussQuoteAs a professional who has looked at how child abuse intersects with so many other individual and societal ailments, I have experienced how challenging it can be to raise awareness around these complex, sensitive issues. But we shouldn’t let discomfort or fear stop us from becoming educated and becoming champions of children when the reality is that 1 in 10 children will experience child sexual abuse by their eighteenth birthday. Sadly, in more than 90 percent of reported cases, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts.1

These are alarming statistics – but we can create a different world for our children because the good news is that child sexual abuse is preventable. Just one act of thoughtfulness or kindness can help keep a child safe, maybe even your own. When these acts become the norm, we foster healthy, connected and resilient communities in which we’re all looking out for one another and each child can reach their full potential.

FredRogersQuoteWe hope that you will join us and share in our ongoing commitment to uphold the the safety of youth. We understand that life is full of challenges and daily activities; that’s why we’ve included some ways you can learn more to do more to protect our children’s only childhood. We can prevent child sexual abuse together. 

5 Ways parents/guardians can protect children

6 Child abuse prevention quick tips


What is child sexual abuse?

“If you are not exactly sure what sexual abuse is, you’re not alone. All sexual touching between an adult and a child is sexual abuse. Sexual touching between children can also be sexual abuse.”2

Learn more from Stop It Now’s Tip Sheet 

How the Y protects children and helps them thrive

At Somerset County YMCA, we are committed to child safety, youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. It is evident that health and fitness are priorities when visiting the Y. What you may not see immediately is that this includes building a healthy spirit, mind and body for all. This mission begins with each employee – throughout the course of a year, Somerset County YMCA employs nearly 1,000 qualified and talented full and part-time staff. Each person is carefully screened and a thorough background check is completed. All Y staff are trained in the identification and prevention of child abuse.

Additionally, Somerset County YMCA integrates a commitment to child safety in its program offerings to the Y community. This includes child abuse prevention, water safety, and youth mental health first aid, among others — all designed to help each child thrive. We believe that prevention is possible, but we need the community’s help.


Five ways parents/guardians can protect children

  • Listen to them - pay attention to verbal and non-verbal behavioral changes or cues
  • Show empathy - express concern for and validate their feelings
  • Educate children early on about boundaries.
  • Learn more about child abuse prevention by taking the Stewards of Children® Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training.4
  • Create a family safety plan.

In her article, Must-Read Tips for Teaching Kids about Boundaries, Anne Calvo, Senior Director of Child Abuse Prevention for YMCA of the USA, says, “Educating children about the importance of personal boundaries – and empowering them to speak out when they feel violated – is essential to healthy youth development. Yet, the topic of boundaries is one that many adults shy away from."

Six child abuse prevention quick tips

  • Do not leave children unattended; if you see a child alone when you pick up your own, wait for a parent or guardian to arrive.
  • Watch out for any inappropriate behaviors in adults or older youth because young children are not as able to recognize these behaviors and protect themselves.
  • Speak up when you see inappropriate behaviors or those that make you uncomfortable. It’s the only way abuse can stop. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person, discuss what you witnessed with a trusted adult.
  • Pay attention to children’s internet, particularly social media, use; these platforms can be used to lure them into physical contact. Learn more tech tips.
  • Talk to your children openly and identify people who they and you trust.
  • Report suspected child abuse to child protective services; if you are unsure, speak to a trusted adult. Learn how to identify abuse.

For a more detailed list and additional resources, visit and the Every Day Actions from Stop It Now).


1 - Darkness to Light
2 - Stop It Now
3 - Praesidium
4 - Somerset County YMCA

About the Author:
Cristina E. Williams has worked for and alongside youth-serving and women's organizations for nearly a decade. Her desire to foster youth development and dedication to family health is what brought her to Somerset County YMCA, where she serves as the director of digital media. Through digital media platforms, Cristina believes heightened awareness can be achieved around the Y’s mission, including the social responsibility initiatives that drive her. Prior to joining the Y, Cristina worked in communications, advocacy and prevention at two state coalitions addressing interpersonal, child and domestic abuse.

  • Somerset County YMCA
  • Health & Wellness
  • Child Safety