Kayaks, paddleboarders and a rower completed a marathon circuit of the island yesterday to raise almost $160,000 for a charity focused on the prevention of child sex abuse.

The money will be used to help fund free training for adults by Saving Children And Revealing Secrets (Scars).

Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of Scars, said: “These funds are a huge help and will allow us to provide awareness and education to the community in child sexual abuse prevention.

“We teach adults to recognise, prevent and react responsibly to this issue.”

The cash was raised over the two-day Kayaks for Kids event. Fifteen kayakers, two paddleboarders and a rower navigated the 40-mile course.

Ms Ray-Rivers said Scars training was required by the Department of Education for teachers and staff members in public schools, as well as for nursery, daycare and home care providers through the Department of Health.

Participants have to recertify every three years.

Ms Ray-Rivers said: “We provide training for other adults in youth serving organisations and for parents in teaching their kids about body safety.

She added: “We are also developing a new recertification programme which will be ready by the end of the year.”

Ms Ray-Rivers said Kayaks for Kids was the charity’s only fundraiser this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She added: “There are a lot of charities that need to raise funds to feed and shelter people.”

Kayaks for Kids started on Saturday morning at Somerset Long Bay Park and ended at 4pm yesterday at Clearwater Beach in St George’s.

Support boats and jet skis were deployed to shadow participants – and hand out drinks and snacks along the route.

The event, organised by Jerry Rivers, a Scars board member and Ms Ray-Rivers’ husband, raised $87,500 through 18 corporate sponsors.

The individual participants raised another $71,700 over the weekend.

Corporate sponsors included reinsurance and insurance firms Willis Re and Fidelis, who donated $10,000 each.

The fundraising accounts are still open for donations.

Ms Ray-Rivers said that Kayaks for Kids was a tough course for participants who had a variety of skill levels.

She added: “I told them when you are getting tired, think what the survivors of child sexual abuse have to go through – they have to persevere.

“It is a battle – there are good days and bad days. I told them, when you are journeying, think about what you are raising money for.

“Child sexual abuse can be drastically reduced – it already has been.

“We have seen laws become strengthened, more organisations are mandating Scars training and more parents are talking about sex differently to their children.

“We have come a long way by empowering our adults.”

Donations to Scars can be made through HSBC accounts 011-054541-001 (BMD) and 011-054541-511 (USD)

Donations can also be made through the Scars website here or by credit or debit card by phone at 297 2277.

The Royal Gazette