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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Akron, Ohio's First Safety Town

So, now that I'm retired, I have no time clock to punch, no place I'm required to be, and the freedom to do only what I want.  Which means I have a target on my back to be recruited for anything working people don't have time to do.  So when my good friend Pastor Debbie asked me to 'help' with coordinating Akron's first Safety Town event (actually make that plural...eventS) I said ok.

Next thing I know, I discover I am the official SAFETY TOWN COORDINATOR. 

I should start by saying the reason this event came into being is because of an article that was written in the Akron Beacon Journal stating that in the City of Akron, a child is hit by a car on average of every 12 days.  This inspired a group of people to do some research and what they discovered is, there are Safety Town events in nearly all the outlying suburbs of Akron but none in the city itself.  So they decided this was something that could be remedied......that's where I come in.

So my friend Ann and I began the herculean task of making 5 Safety Town events a reality in only 3 months.  From getting 10 safety town buildings designed, assembled and painted (all by volunteers),  to designing and compiling a week's worth of curriculum which included songs, stories and art projects, to designing a registration and release form, to determining locations, to lining up teachers and volunteers for each event, to figuring out how to transport the buildings from site to site, to planning a week's worth of snacks, to designing and purchasing t-shirts,bike helmets and low-rider tricycles, to lining up the police and fire departments to come and give presentations and trust me, the list goes on and on. I had no idea how monumental this project was going to be.

The biggest hurtle was when I was told that 95% of all the children at one of the events would be non-English speaking and we would need to find interpreters that speak Nepalese.  Really????

What I can only attribute to divine guidance, the event was successful.  Exhausting, but successful.  We educated over 200 kids on street and bicycle safety, stranger danger, fire safety, good touch-bad touch, and more.  One of the most interesting (and disturbing) exercises was when we had a sweet young woman try to lure the children away from the group by offering them candy and all but one child out of 60 kids went with the lady! 

When I asked one sweet little boy if his parents told him never to go with strangers, he said yes.  "So, why did you go with the lady then?", I asked.  His reply...."Because she had candy and we don't have candy at our house." 

So the real purpose of this blog is to let parents know.....
If you believe you've covered the topic of safety enough times with your kids....believe me.......
YOU HAVEN'T!!!  Do it again, and again and again and again and again and...........


So, I gave up my summer of relaxing and fishing but I'm absolutely sure we saved some children's lives.  I think that's a fair trade off, don't you?