BEVERLY–Safetytown, a program created to teach children safety skills in kindergarten, returns after two years of closure due to the pandemic.
During Safetytown, students are divided into groups of two to three children and given a “special friend” who they work with for the duration of the two-week program. “Special Friends” are volunteer students ranging from sixth to high school. Each day, students are divided into three large groups and tackle 45-minute sessions targeting different safety topics like internet safety, gun safety, fire safety, pool safety, pool safety, firm and the safety of strangers, among other topics.
“It prepares children for a good start at school,” said Heidi Fryman, kindergarten teacher at Beverly-Center Elementary.
Fryman has taught at the Beverly Center for 33 years and said she was asked to volunteer at the Muskingum Valley Safetytown after her first year as a teacher at the school.
This is the 34th year of the Muskingum Valley Safetytown program. Fryman said 102 children signed up to participate this year.
Safetytown has taken a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fryman said that during the pandemic, she noticed a huge difference between previous classes that had gone through the program and classes that hadn’t had the chance to participate.
“I don’t remember how many times I said throughout the school year last year, ‘this is something they would have learned in Safetytown'” she says. “I was all for bringing him back this year because I know I see the value of the city of safety even more after being away from it for two years.”
Fryman said that without preschool and Safetytown, she noticed her students didn’t wait for others, weren’t as respectful of personal space, had less patience, didn’t clean up after themselves, and had fallen back in all fine motor skills. . She said that during Safetytown, students have the chance to use crayons, crayons, scissors and glue sticks daily and experience using the same kinds of tools they would use when coming. to school in the fall.
Fryman said one of the benefits of Safetytown is making it easier for him in the fall. She said it gives them a little expectation of what school might be like for students by having to raise their hands, being patient while others talk, and meeting familiar teachers and students they would see. in autumn.
“There are so many things happening that will help these kids get off to a good start in school and be more independent,” she says. “I just feel like it’s been a very positive experience.”
Fryman said one of the things that makes Safetytown so successful is the amazing volunteers. She said she was getting help from professors Dawn Spurr and Sue Sampson, as well as students from Fort Frye and Waterford.
Bella Schilling, a recent Fort Frye High School graduate and Safetytown volunteer, participated in Safetytown when she was five years old. Schilling said she felt her time in the program was worthwhile and she learned lessons like looking both ways when crossing the street and how to get on a school bus.
Schilling has been volunteering since sixth grade and said it was very important to be “special friend” who takes the students around and helps them during the two week period.
“I feel like I’m helping someone and I feel like I’m improving the community by helping kids in need,” she says. “It’s a fun thing to do, so I like it.”
Fryman said the Beverly Lions Club helps organize the event, reaches out to communities on both sides, provides snacks and donations that help teachers run Safetytown.
“They are amazing, they go out and help set things up every day,” she says.
John Shreve, former president and current member of the Beverly Lion’s Club, said he and the Lions have been involved with Safetytown since before it launched. He said it’s a good way to provide service to the community.
“It helps children learn the rules of life” he said. “There is no better way to serve your community than working with children.”
∫ Samuel R. Cook Safetytown in Marietta returned this year and had two Safetytown classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Cheryl Cook, Washington Elementary School principal and instructional director for the program, did not return a call seeking comment.
∫ Belpre Safetytown was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, but made a comeback in 2021. In 2022, 120 students enrolled in Belpre Safetytown.
∫ Barlow-Vincent Safetytown did not return due to lack of volunteers. Co-founders Tara Anderson and Lisa Mayle retired from the program and no one has volunteered to take over the project since.