Keeping kids safe through awarenessAbout 80 children took part in a new safety awareness event Wednesday at the Superior Public Library. The two-hour program included the chance to hear a 911 call, a class to help kids identify people they can turn to for help and was capped off with a roller skating party at the World of Wheels Skate Center.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
About 80 children took part in a new safety awareness event Wednesday at the Superior Public Library. The two-hour program included the chance to hear a 911 call, a class to help kids identify people they can turn to for help and was capped off with a roller skating party at the World of Wheels Skate Center.
Sadie Johnson brought her five children, hoping that hearing the same safety messages from other adults would make an impact on them.
“The more it’s repeated, the more it will stick,” she said.
One 3-year-old even tested the effectiveness of handcuffs on preschoolers. Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste told the children that police do not arrest kids and take them away from their families. To convince the youngsters, she placed her handcuffs on Areeb Mahmud, 3. They slipped right off.
“What does that make me?” she asked.
“Awesome,” said 11-year-old Christian Johnson. Officers, Beste stressed, are your friends.
Children’s librarian Nora Fie told the kids that librarians are safe people to turn to if they have any problems at the library. And she encouraged them to follow the rules. Never leave with a stranger, she told the children, and be aware of who’s around you.
Each of the children was fingerprinted and photographed for a child ID kit that was sent home with their parents and guardians. The kit could provide key information if something happens to a child, Beste said.
She encouraged the adults to take an active role in stopping crime by being proactive and reporting anything suspicious.
“We need you to help us know what’s going on and be informed,” she said.
The 911 call featured a 5-year-old whose father was having trouble breathing. Beste told the kids that if something bad is going on and they need help, they should call 911 and stay on the line.
In a library classroom, children discussed ways their bodies signaled that a situation was not safe, such as a queasy stomach, racing heartbeat and goose bumps. They were asked to identify adults at home, school and in the neighborhood they could go to for help. They also identified scenarios that were safe, unsafe and adventurous.
The day ended with snacks, T-shirts and a trip to the World of Wheels. Owner Steve Grapentin said he offered free use of the roller rink because he believes in keeping kids safe.
“I thought it was a good community effort,” Grapentin said. He also wanted to let children and their parents know that the roller rink is always a safe place to come.
Others who contributed financially to the event, which was free for the children and their parents, stopped by the World of Wheels to talk to Mike Almond, who organized the event with Beste and Fie.
“Obviously as a locally-owned community bank we want to see the kids to learn as much as they can about awareness and safety,” said Bruce Thompson, community bank president at National Bank of Commerce. “Anything we can do to help the kids be more aware of their surroundings, problems to watch help them be healthy, strong and be productive citizens that’s what we’re all about.”
“They deserve to be safe,” said Bob Barto of Superior, who considered his donation an investment. These children, he said, are our future.