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June 21, 2014

The kids are down with Safety Town

Openings still available in upcoming session

JEFFERSONVILLE — The population of Safety Town USA has recently grown, as a new crop of youngsters are learning how to avoid everyday, and less common, dangers during a week-long class held in Jeffersonville.

“We do a lot of different safety-type topics,” said Safety Town teacher Ashley Perrin, 31, Jeffersonville.

While riding bicycles on a Safety Town course, located behind Jeffersonville Fire Department station No. 2 on 10th Street, is a favorite activity for the children, the program teaches them much more than roadway safety.

Perrin said during the 10-hour program, which is broken up over five days, children also learn about staying safe around water, trains, firearms, strangers, drugs and alcohol. She said the classes also include guidance on “good touch, bad touch.”

The classes started this week and a new course starts Monday.

“It is a free program, and it is a really beneficial program, plus they get a free [bicycle] helmet,” Perrin said.

On the bicycle course, the kids learn how to follow road signs, travel on the right side of the road and take turns at intersections.

“It’s funny because we always have parents tell us at the end of graduation that their kids have gotten on them about not stopping longing enough at stop signs,” Perrin said. “It’s kind of cool.”

Perrin said while the children navigate the bicycle course, they are learning precautions to be taken by motorists and pedestrians.

“Many of the rules for bike safety are the same for drivers,” she said. “When you are on your bike, you are supposed to stop at stop signs as well. We are hoping that the things they learn in Safety Town will stay with them until they are old enough to drive a car.”

Safety Town is sponsored by both the Pilot Club of Jeffersonville, a civic service organization, and the city of Jeffersonville.

Safety Town Director and Pilot Club member Carolyn Wilson, 56, New Albany, said she is thankful for the support from police, fire and city officials, which includes allowing the classroom sessions of Safety Town to be held inside the Jeffersonville Fire Department station No. 2.

Wilson said the interaction between the children and police and fire officials has benefits beyond learning to stay safe.

“The children learn to trust the firefighters and police officers. They learn they are here to help keep them safe,” she said.

Perrin said that many of the children return to the program for a second or third year, which she thinks shows how much kids and parents enjoy it.

“It is a really fun program. The kids love to come to Safety Town,” she said.

The program is so beloved, one of the graduates became a volunteer of the program.

Dennis McCutcheon, 19, Jeffersonville, says he was a Safety Town student 15 years ago and that he’s has returned every year since to lend a helping hand.

“I kind of never graduated,” McCutcheon joked. “I didn’t let them get rid of me.”

He said he has returned each year because he enjoys helping the children learn important lessons they can use for the rest of their lives.

“They walk away with a lot of knowledge. We give them with a lot information,” McCutcheon said. “It gives them thoughts they can file in the back of their brains, and when a situation really does happen in the future, they will know what to do.”

Sophia Goforth, 6, a Wilson Elementary School student, said Thursday that she was had “learned how to cross the street, looking at signs,” and that a firefighter had told her class why it was important to “stop, drop and roll.”

Another 6-year-old, Salma Mahamud, a Spring Hill Elementary School student, said she learned about keeping safe around water.

“We’re learning to keep [safe] while swimming by wearing a vest or else you will drown,” she said.

Both girls said they had also learned about the dangers of cigarettes and alcohol

“Cigarettes have a lot of yucky stuff,” Sophia said, and Salma added, “And, they make your lungs turn black.”

Parents can still sign their children up for the June 23 to June 27 Safety Town class. Spots are available in the 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. session.

To register your child in the program, contact Carolyn Wilson at 812-944-5898 or pcojeffersonville@gmail.com

 

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Sierra Proctor, 13, New Albany, looks through a clothing rack at the Clarksville Salvation Army Thrift Store along Little League Boulevard on Wednesday morning. Students enrolled in any level of schooling in Floyd, Clark, Washington, and Scott counties were eligible for the back-to-school clothing giveaway.

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