Saturday, June 19, 1999

Program teaches children safety basics, The Ann Arbor News

Program teaches children safety basics
By Pamela Appea
The Ann Arbor News

Despite some lingering sniffles, after most of the parents have left, a group of 15 or so future kindergartners listened attentively to first-grade teacher Cheryl Schroeder talk about how safety can be fun.

Standing in a Bryant Elementary School classroom, Schroeder calmed the group by reaching the group a story.

It prepared the children for learning such things as “stranger danger,” their home phone numbers and addresses, and why everyone should wear a bicycle helmet and seat belt.

Over the next two weeks, as many as 800 children ages 5 and 6 in Ann Arbor will go through the Safety Town program, which the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Ann Arbor Public Schools System has sponsored since 1979.

The classes are at Bryant Elementary School, and participating schools include Haisley, Allen, Mack, Burns Park and Logan.

Ann Arbor Police Officer Tom Hickey, who helps run Safety Town, said children get to practice making 911 calls and rehearse fire drills in a “simulated smoky environment.”

Hickey helped get grants and donations for 800 new bike helmets and 16 tricycles, which Safety Town leaders will use in program exercises this year. Children also color and review worksheets to reinforce safety techniques.

Hickey, who has helped lead the program for about four years and has a son in this year’s class, said on the first day of the program, there is usually some crying.

But by “graduation” day, he said, “kids are sorry they have to leave.”

“I’ve heard so many parents talk about the program … I wanted to make sure my son was part of it,” said Vickie Malcolm of Ann Arbor.

Malcolm said her son Xavier, 4 1/2 , will attend Bach Open School this fall.

“I don’t want to overwhelm my son, but now is definitely the time (for this kind of class),” she said.

“We have to teach our kids and make them more aware.”

The program requests that parents register in advance and pay $40, although some scholarship are available.

For more information, call (734) 994-8587.

Originally Published Tuesday, June 19, 1999