Above / Since 2012, KidsMatter has presented numerous programs on digital issues and cyber safety for local students, often in cooperation with the City of Naperville and the Naperville Police Department. (Image created by a MVHS student in 2012, courtesy of KidsMatter)

KidsMatter, in partnership with Naperville Community School District 203 and Indian Prairie School District 204, has developed programming to help students understand the importance of positive digital citizenship.

Next week, nearly 300 local students in grades 4 through 8 will represent about 50 schools as they attend the new KidsMatter Digital Leadership Summit to be held on February 5 and 6 in Naperville.

Participating students were chosen by their individual building leadership.  

During a recent Rotary Club of Naperville/Downtown meeting at Hugo’s Frog Bar, KidsMatter CEO & Executive Director Kamala Martinez provided an overview of the Digital Leadership Summit set for February 5-6.

“We believe this program is in perfect alignment with KidsMatter’s mission to build resilient kids who say ‘no’ to destructive choices and ‘yes’ to endless opportunities,” said KidsMatter CEO and Executive Director Kamala Martinez. “This program is designed to combat cyberbullying, and educate on creating a positive digital footprint, while empowering students to realize their leadership possibilities.” 

Students are encouraged to be “UpStanders” within their schools and learn about how they can be a positive influence and take a stand in their community.

The Digital Leadership Summit program leverages the Google Be Internet Awesome Curriculum and Common Sense Media resources to assist students to develop a positive digital footprint. 

Program incorporates the 7 Domains of the Illinois Internet Safety Act

●        Safe and responsible use of the internet

●        Recognizing, avoiding, and reporting online solicitations

●        Risks of transmitting personal information on the internet

●        Recognizing and reporting online harassment and cyberbullying

●        Reporting illegal online activities and communications

●        Understanding copyright laws on written materials, photographs, music and video

“Helping students learn how make positive choices and impact in their community has always been a part of our district work,” said Jill Hlavacek, Director of Innovation and Learning for Naperville District 203, in a written statement. “Since our digital learning implementation, where devices became part of our normal school supplies, we know providing opportunities for students to learn about being safe on the internet and mentoring them on how to help develop a positive digital footprint, are important priorities.”

Facilitators for the two-day Summit will include District 203 and 204 teachers, technology specialists, learning commons directors, educational administrators, KidsMatter staff and volunteers. One day will be held for elementary students and the other will focus on middle-schoolers, the news release said. 

Experts will share digital safety info for students to become ‘Upstanders’

Students will hear from City and School District leadership and experts on digital safety, organizers said. They’ll also work in small groups on curriculum. Finally, they’ll meet in school teams to discuss all they learned and how they can serve as UpStanders in their family, neighborhood, among peers and in the community; sharing their knowledge on cyber safety.

“Digital literacy is no longer an optional skill,” stated Allan Davenport, Director of Innovation and Instructional Leadership for District 204. “In a world where technology continues to evolve and grow at such a fast pace, we need our students to understand and know how to interact in this digital world. During the summit, these student leaders will collaborate with their teachers to design a Digital Literacy/Citizenship Campaign to implement in their schools.  This campaign is designed to complement the digital literacy/citizenship activities that are already taking place in every school.”

Since 2012, PN has featured stories about the ongoing commitment of KidsMatter to present programs on digital issues and cyber safety, often in cooperation with the City of Naperville and the Naperville Police Department.

Deputy Chief Jason Arres noted, “Children by nature are curious and trusting, which exposes them to risks online. Online safety cannot be enforced alone by a privacy setting or filter. The conversation needs to not only include parents, educators, but the children themselves.  (They need to learn about) avoiding the risks by protecting their personal information, being aware of and following the rules, knowing what is appropriate and what is not… and respecting others online.”

KidsMatter since 2001

KidsMatter is a Naperville, Illinois-based nonprofit organization that equips youth and families with tools to manage the stress of everyday life through dynamic school and community programs, practical education, resources and youth recognition. KidsMatter harnesses the power of partnership with parents, educators and an extensive network of community resources to build resilient kids who say NO to destructive choices and YES to endless possibilities.

For more information about KidsMatter and the services offered for local youth and families, visit www.kidsmatter2us.org.

Story submitted by Sherilyn Hebel, KidsMatter Director of Programs, and Deb Newman for KidsMatter.

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