The first days of summer have arrived and with all the schools out, the town of Elkin decided to host a special event Tuesday to teach children skills that would help keep them safe as they enjoy the summer months. Members of the Elkin Recreation Center, the fire department, the police department, the Surry County 911 Center, and the Children’s Center of Surry all came out to the Elkin Municipal Park to give several lessons on safety through fun activities.
Parents and children signed up for the event in advance, and camps came out to the park that morning by bus with their counselors. Five stations were set up around the park to teach life lessons to six groups of children throughout the morning till lunchtime. Each group of children got to spend about half an hour at each station.
“You’re talking about a group of kids who are from kindergarten to sixth- and seventh-graders,” said Myron Waddell, Safe Kids Coalition coordinator. “You’ve got a fair mix of kids who are getting a little bit of everything from pool and water safety to safe use of medications and fire safety. Some of it is summer safety, some of it is general safety.”
Amanda Brooks, Elisa Bryant and Brenda Vasquez from the Children’s Center taught children lessons on bullying and how to prevent it as well as how to show one another encouragement. Children got to learn these lessons through crafts, bean bag tosses and horseshoe throws.
“It’s been fun and I’m glad the day has been as pleasant as it is,” said intern Elisa Bryant. “In the summer time this is what you do, have fun with the children while teaching them a lesson or two. And you know what was so great about it, most of them already knew some things about bullying, but we could help them expand on it. When you asked them a question, they gave an answer.”
Police Cpl. Kevin Hall taught the students about bicycle safety while on the road and even had a video for the children to watch.
“With all the kids from Elkin and Mount Airy, if you’re riding in your grass at home you’re fine, but a lot of your inner city homes don’t have big enough yards so you have to come outside and ride somewhere,” said Hall. “It’s important that they know the safety rules and be able to watch for traffic, use signals, and be observant of their surroundings. It’s all about staying safe and staying out of trouble.”
Theresa Knops, captain with the Elkin Fire Department, taught the children fire and medicine safety.
“The day went very well. I think it has been a great success,” said Knops. “The kids have been very engaged which is great to see.”
911 Center Director Stephanie Conner taught the kids about 911 and when and how to call for an emergency.
“A lot of them were raising their hands and asking questions,” said Conner. “I focused on giving them an idea of what an emergency constitutes. I always ask ‘is a cat stuck in a tree’ an emergency, because for a little girl who loses their cat, that may be an emergency to them but not to us. But then, what about somebody having chest pain or if their house is on fire, and we explain to them what we can do to help. It’s about helping them realize what we have to offer. I love doing this. I love public education and bringing awareness. It’s about showing them how we can help and what they need to do to get that help. I know most children start learning these lessons in school but from a professional point of view it’s more exposure for them.”
Adam McComb of Parks and Recreation talked to the children about water safety at the Elkin Municipal Pool.
This is the first year Heroes Day has ever been held, and Waddell believes the set up has worked well for the day.
“We’ve never done anything like this before, especially as a Safe Kids Coalition here in Surry County, so it’s new ground for us. So far I think this set up works well because it’s easier for us to come to the kids than the other way around. Also the good thing about this is we have built-in supervision because the counselors for the individual camps are already with these groups so we don’t have to factor in making sure the kids are taken care of and watched over. We can focus on teaching.”
Waddell hopes this event may continue in the future and believes it would be an important asset for the education of children in Surry County.
“If you don’t put these ideas in their mind early, they’ll never get it when they’re 16 or 17 years old,” said Waddell. “It’s like wearing your seat belt in the car. If an adult in a car is wearing their seat belt, 95 percent of the time the kids will be as well. If the adult is not buckled up, two-thirds of the time the children won’t be buckled up. If we don’t start setting the example for them and teaching them early our safe behaviors, then we’ve lost our mission.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.