Pontiac's HAVEN has summer camp for kids from domestic violence, sex abuse family backgrounds

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It's summer camp - but we can't show you the kids taking part - their privacy closely guarded because of what they've been through as children of survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault.

"We know that domestic violence and sexual assault can and does affect people of all backgrounds and identities," said Aly Prussing, HAVEN Summer Camp.

And at summer camp at HAVEN in Pontiac - the children are thriving. 

"The activities that we're doing is centering around our values of empowerment and compassion and trust and inclusion," Prussing said. "Building a culture where they can feel comfortable being themselves."

Prussing is the volunteer program coordinator where 30 children ages 6 through 13 - who are currently in shelter at the center or going through counseling, are not just having fun - they're learning powerful - valuable lessons.

"We teach them compassion, inclusion and trust," said Floid Jeffries, a junior counselor.

"Asking for consent is one of our big things here," said Halle Marlow, a junior counselor. "Ask for everything - can I touch you, can I give you a handshake."

Marlow and Jeffries are junior counselors there. They are students at Novi High School - who've received training in dealing with traumatic experiences. They've had their own trauma in their lives - and are so glad to be helping others.

"The kids I work with, they are bright - their energy is amazing," said Jeffries. "You'd think that kind of stuff would make them more reserved, but it's made them more outgoing.

"My first week I met the parent and she smiled and the kid was smiling - I felt great."

In the art room the kids can combine arts and crafts with empowerment - making super hero masks and T-shirts to express themselves.

There is gardening and quiet time for journaling - as well as time for sports and climbing on the playground.

The children are learning early not to emulate the abusive behavior they've witnessed - learning instead how to treat one another with dignity and respect.

"There's a lot of different resources that we're able to provide for our clients and support the whole family," said Prussing. "That's what this camp is for. Helping the whole family be empowered and have fun and really support their path to healing."
>> For more information: https://www.haven-oakland.org/