Center educates kids on non-violence

by Emily Babcock

While Valentine’s Day marked the anniversary of a local murder, officials at the University’s Child Care Center said they had reason to celebrate as well as mourn Friday.
Staff acknowledged the one-year anniversary of the creation of the Kami M. Talley Reading and Resource Center in the child care center by hosting a day-long memorial service, in which people could tour the center and learn about Talley.
Two years ago on Valentine’s Day, Talley, a University student, was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend Louis Cardona “Butch” Buggs.
The resource center was created to keep Talley’s memory alive as well as help educate the public on a variety of issues such as domestic abuse and death.
And officials said the center’s brief history has been a success story.
Talley’s preschool-aged daughter used to attend the University’s child center. After Talley’s murder, local parents asked teachers what they should do to teach children about death. The questions prompted center staff to find a way for the children to deal with the grief.
“Parents handled the situation very differently,” said Bobbie Jackson, a head teacher at the center and friend of the Talley family. “That is what got our attention. Parents were asking questions that we couldn’t answer.”
One year after the murder, College of Education officials approved a grant that would match fund-raising attempts to create a resource center for the rest of the community.
“The most significant consequence of Kami’s death is that many of us are determined to be proponents for non-violence for the rest of our lives,” said Patty Finstad, director of the University’s Child Care Center. “We continue to develop non-violence curriculum.”
The Resource Center contains a collection of videos, books and brochures on a number of topics from dealing with abuse to how to grieve.
Center staff also instituted a more assertive teaching philosophy of non-violence. All teachers instruct their students on alternative methods to violence.
“Through teaching young children, we also eventually reach the parents,” Finstad said.
Besides teaching children how to handle their own conflicts in a peaceful manner, staff have pledged to be more aggressive in identifying violence.
Additionally, enrollment packets for new families contain information about identifying abuse, and the center also works with other organizations to train in abuse prevention and intervention. Laws mandate child care providers to report any suspicion of neglect or abuse, but staff of the University’s center pledged to report any suspicion of any sort of violence a child has witnessed.
The resources and curriculum at the child center also reach the community. Finstad said because of the amount of people from the University community that are either center employees or take their children there, the center has an advantage at influencing the community.
“We have more resources and visibility. We know that we teach parents. Parents ask us for the resources,” Finstad said. “And since our parents are in a position to influence other people, we have a special road to the future.”
Teacher Sara Tjernlund said the teachers are able to hear the non-violence philosophy in the voices of the toddlers that she teaches.
Jackson and Finstad said they will continue to raise money for the resource center, and hope to eventually turn it into a library.