Kindergarten children all over Oktibbeha County got a healthy dose of safety last week.
For more than 20 years, the Junior Auxiliary has hosted the annual Safety Town to education children on a variety of safety issues.
“This is one of our biggest events of the year,” said Kerri Wordlaw, JA Safety Town chair. “Reaching the kindergarten classes as a whole is a great way to reach the community. It’s something we can cover in one day, and it captures their attention, but it’s also educating them.”
Volunteers from 4-County Electric, The Oktibbeha County Humane Society, the Starkville Fire Department, the Starkville Police Department, Dr. Barry Herring Dentistry, the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi, the Wellness Connection and Mississippi State Department of Agriculture all came armed with an important safety message to deliver to the children.
“We really appreciate JA doing this,” Sudduth teacher Lauren Stegall said. “It’s wonderful because it’s multiple areas of safety. There are so many aspects of safety the children learn about, and it’s things they really need to know.”
JA partners with the National Guard Armory, who hosts the event to allow enough room for JA to create the miniature-sized town, complete with sidewalks, streets and buildings (made out of plastic children’s tents). Children walked around the block to each safety stop where they learned about everything from helmet safety to chemical safety.
Brad Barr, communication coordinator with 4-County Electric, has been attending Safety Town for the last nine years. Each year, he brings his wooden house, completely wired with working electricity to show children how electricity is all around them.
“We try to show them what things in their house use electricity and how to be safe around those items,” Barr explained. “They need to have a good general knowledge about things they use that require electricity, how to avoid plug-ins, and what happens if they get shocked... Once you explain the basics of electricity and how to be safe around it, the children are really receptive.”
Police Officer Freddie Bardley talked with the children about seat belt safety and helmet safety. To help bring Bardley’s message home, a representative from the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi used a visual demonstration of the importance of wearing a helmet anytime a child is using a toy where their own two feet aren’t on the ground.
A cantaloupe represented the human head, and was first placed in a helmet and dropped to the ground. The children saw that the cantaloupe was still intact after the fall. Then the cantaloupe was dropped without the helmet. The children saw the cantaloupe split in two as it hit the ground.
Stacey Swain with the MSU agriculture department manned the chemical safety stop.
“I try to let them know how to recognize chemicals in their home and how they are not toys,” Swain explained. “It’s a simple message of don’t touch the stuff, and tell a parent if something does happen... It’s important to learn at an early age about chemical safety and learn as they get older how to use the chemicals safely.”
The Human Society taught children how handle animals, especially animals the children may not know. They learned how to be gentle with petting a strange animal and how to be cautious when approaching them.
Mitzi Evans with Dr. Barry Herring’s dentist office talked with the children about the importance of proper dental hygiene. She came armed with a large tooth display that gave the children an up close and personal view of a cavity to convince them that proper brushing is the way to go to avoid a painful cavity.
The Starkville Fire Department talked with the children about fire safety, gave a tour of the fire truck and showed the children that they shouldn’t be scared if they see a fire fighter in his uniform. Each child was also finger printed for child identification records that the SPD will keep in the event of an emergency.
“We just wanted a one-stop shop with lots of community volunteers so that they can have a comprehensive safety lesson in a fun environment, “JA President Mary Love Tagert said. “Safety never goes out of style.”