The Safety Town program, modeled off similar events hosted in Guilford County, Concord and Huntersville, aims to teach 4- to 6-year-old kids the essentials like stranger danger and pedestrian, traffic, fire and bicycle safety.
“We wanted to do more with younger (kids),” Cook said. “That was something we felt like would be good to bring to Davidson County.”
According to deputies Roger Cook and Melissa Cannady, Safety Town’s organizers and the county’s D.A.R.E. program leaders, the four-day experience will allow kids in the community to get exposure to local law enforcement and learn basic safety in a fun and hands-on experience.
“It’s fun and interactive, but it also introduces them to law enforcement at an early age, so we can build that trust with the community, with the parents and with the kids,” Cook said.
The Sheriff’s Office will host the program at two elementary schools in August. The first run of the program will take place Aug. 5-8 at Welcome Elementary School. The following week, Aug. 12-15, Safety Town will head to Southwood Elementary School. At each location, kids can register for a morning class that runs 9 to 11 a.m. or an afternoon class that runs 1 to 3 p.m.
“We tried to get the north end and the south end, that way people won’t have to travel too far,” Cannady said.
During their four days in Safety Town, Cook said, participants will ride tricycles through a simulated town, learning to obey traffic signs, stoplights and other traffic laws.
“We’re going to split them into two groups. One group is going to stay and learn about traffic safety. We’re going to show them our signs and what each of them means, the proper way to ride the tricycles, and then they’re going to be able to ride. The other class will go and learn from a community professional,” Cook explained of what each day will look like. “After that first hour, they are going to switch.”
Participants will get to meet with and learn from community professionals such as firefighters, police officers and nurses on other safety topics. They will also get to check out first responder vehicles when available.
Additionally, the Secret Service will be on site offering free fingerprinting for all the participants and their siblings, Cook said.
According to Cook, setting up the Safety Town program cost about $8,000, which was gathered from community sponsors BB&T Bank, RAH Trucking Inc., Citrin & Whitman, O.P.E. of America Inc., Bunce Buildings, Garrett’s Towing & Recovery and Electrical Communications and Security Solutions. Cook said the start-up costs were a one-time expense used to purchase 20 tricycles, rubber floor mats and the materials to build the simulation town.
“After that, it’s pretty much self-funding once we get the initial set up,” Cook said. “Everything we’re using, we’ll be able to reuse.”
The Sheriff’s Office is seeking 15 to 26 kids to participate in each class. Registration forms are available at the county’s elementary schools, some daycare centers and at the Sheriff’s Office.
The registration fee per child is $35, which includes a bicycle helmet and a T-shirt to take home. Cook said the Sheriff’s Office has some scholarships available for kids who cannot otherwise afford to participate.
In addition, to seeking young participants, Cook said the Sheriff’s Office would also love to have members of the community volunteer to help with Safety Town.
“We would love to have as many community volunteers as we can get. That would be amazing,” Cook said.
“We’d love to have a full crowd,” Cannady said. “If we have a good turnout, we hope to do maybe even three separate schools (next year).”
Elizabeth Pattman can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 213, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter: @LexDispatchEP
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