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SAFETY CITY

Students practice the rules of the road, such as raising a left hand to signal a right turn, while riding in customized peddle-cars. (The Pilot/Scott Graves).
Students practice the rules of the road, such as raising a left hand to signal a right turn, while riding in customized peddle-cars. (The Pilot/Scott Graves).

By Scott Graves

Pilot Staff Writer

Helmet? Check.

Seatbelt? Check.

Having fun at Safety City? Check!

Fifteen 5-year-olds spent five straight days this week learning how to be safe at home and on the streets during the 11th Safety City program at Kalmiopsis Elementary School.

"This is a chance to teach them young about how to be safe and stay safe," said Safety City Coordinator Dan Palicki.

Palicki, with the help of a half-dozen adult volunteers and local emergency agencies, instructed the children on a variety of safety issues, from fire safety to crossing the street to dialing 911. Normally there are 20 to 25 kids in each class.

Safety City is free to the students because of the 30-plus sponsors the program has acquired over the years, Palicki said.

The program consists of five consecutive days of learning, followed by a graduation ceremony on Saturday. Each class day lasts 21/2 hours.

While the youngsters are in session, they spend an average of one hour in the classroom and an additional hour outside participating in a variety of safety scenarios.

Palicki, a retired Brookings police officer, developed Safety City based on a similar program in Toledo, Ohio, called "Safe-T-City." Since its inception 10 years ago in Brookings, Palicki has customized the curriculum to be more relevant to life in the Pacific Northwest coastal region, recruited communitywide sponsorship so that it could be offered as a free program, and developed a summer schedule in which parents can choose one of three, six-day courses.

Subjects covered include: Introduction to Police, Eddie Eagle presenting gun safety on Monday; dialing 911, phone, and electricity safety on Tuesday; fire safety and good touch-bad touch on Wednesday; water safety and forest safety on Thursday; and animal care and safety and school bus safety on Friday.

In addition, on Monday through Thursday, the children spend an hour riding customized peddle-cars through a simulated city, set up on the playground, designed to introduce them to the "rules of the road."

Various community resource personnel visit the class of the five-day period. Firemen, policemen, and forest service workers are among the visitors.

Through innovation and age-appropriate teaching methods in a school environment, the staff of volunteers aims to introduce and reinforce important safety habits, as well as familiarize children with a little of what they can expect when they become students when school starts in September.

In addition to lessons, kids are given free bike helmets, identification kits and numerous educational materials and fun gifts from sponsors.

It's too late to sign children up for this year's Safety City – the third and final week begins Monday – but Palicki said he plans to do it again next year. And he hopes that one day, there will be a program like Safety City in every town.

For information regarding the program, sponsorship, or volunteer opportunities, contact Palicki at (541) 469-5253.

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