How it all started - The Kimberley Project
Excerpts from -
The National Coalition On Child Abuse and Neglect
The “My Body Is My Body” Program was born out of the “Kimberley Project”- here is the story of how it all started.
On June 8th 1986 in a section of London, England, the life of Kimberley Carlisle aged 4 ended. She weighed 24 pounds, her body was crushed in many places, there were cigarette burns on her back and a boot heel imprinted on her skull. Her stepfather was charged with the crime and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
At the time Chrissy Sykes who was a popular South African Country Singer was on a stop over in London on her way to the United States of America, where she had been invited to Nashville by the legendary Producer Pete Drake. She kept reading the stories about Kimberley in the newspapers and having a little girl who was also 4 at the time this story touched her heart and made a lasting impression. Chrissy wrote the song “Kimberley” on the flight over to the USA.
In early 1989, whilst in Texas Chrissy was at a dinner party where knowing she was a singer the hostess asked Chrissy to sing a song. She sat down at the piano and for the first time played the song “Kimberley” for the guests. Unaware that one of the guests at the dinner was the President of the Texas Child Welfare Board who loved the song, Chrissy was asked if it could be used as a method of raising funds and awareness for Child Abuse in Texas.
Chrissy consented and later that year during Child Abuse Prevention Month the Texas Child Welfare Board sold 14,000 records and tapes of the song and raised $70,000.
As a promotional aspect Chrissy travelled Texas for 3 weeks and found herself being introduced to talk to children in schools and giving general public presentations, thus giving birth to the “Kimberley Project”. Not being a human services professional Chrissy felt uncomfortable and inadequate speaking the first time to 500 children and then over 2000 at the next location, but spoke nonetheless with her natural warmth understanding and sincerity. She was a success and children and adults were disclosing their being abused for the first time ever, to anyone, at the rate of 15% per presentation.
Chrissy found audiences being receptive and open, not only to bring up the subject of child abuse, but learning the problem and how to prevent it. Music being her main mode of communication these presentations stirred her creativity and from her own experiences and those shared with her, she began to write her thoughts through songs and here began the “My Body Is My Body” Program. Working closely with professionals Chrissy put together the program that would go hand in hand with the songs. The program was approved by the Department of Human Services in Texas.
Chrissy then moved to Tennessee and the Program was referred to the Nashville Coalition On Child Abuse and Neglect by the Department of Human Services and the project became the Coalition’s first Major undertaking.
A research study published in the Journal of Music Therapy which involved children, showed that music, and typically group singing activities like the “My Body Is My Body” program found an increase in trust and group cohesiveness and cooperation. In addition, singing and developing music skills ( like learning new songs) relate to increasing a more positive self concept and development of self esteem - helping kids feel better about themselves.
The Coalition feels that this program is a valuable instrument in Child Abuse Prevention. We feel that this program can truly make a valuable contribution, not only for child abuse awareness but even more importantly, child abuse prevention…allowing the rare opportunity to make a significant impact in causing a reduction of the number of children being victimised. A problem that up to now has seen a steady increase.
In a 5 year period Chrissy presented the program to over 350,000 children in Texas, Tennessee, Florida and Virginia, working with Schools, PTAs, Department of Human Services and Department of Education."
An important piece of information came to light when Chrissy was visiting the Tennessee State Prison where some of the inmates were asked - “What would you do if a child said No to you?”
the answer was “We would look for another child that did not say No” So therefore the answer is to educate as many children as possible to say NO !!!