DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Police here are teaming up with the Dayton Life Enrichment Center (LEC), a nonprofit community organization, to teach young children personal safety skills.
Tuesday, a group of preschool-aged children from Stepping Stone daycare attended the first day of a two-day Safety Town camp. The program focuses on a variety of safety topics including fire safety, pool safety and street safety, using classroom techniques, videos and scaled-down ‘Safety Village’
Several years ago, a grant from the Mark A. Kreusch Memorial Fund and donations of road signs, hydrants and other materials from the City of Dayton helped build the MAK Town Safety Village. The miniature village includes buildings and streets to accommodate peddle bikes and scooters, allowing children to navigate the town and practice real world safety scenarios.
“It teaches kids all kinds of important things living in the city,” explained Jenny Warner, associated executive director at LEC. “There’s fire prevention, stranger danger, bicycle safety, crossing the street: all of the things that kids really need to know.”
The LEC’s staffing and resources limited how often the Safety Town was utilized. It became a mutual partnership when the Dayton Police Department certified several officers to teach the course and needed a facility.
Community relations officer Christine Hamilton has been in charge of the camp’s first summer at MAK Town Safety Village.
“If you start young, it’ll be more engrained into their minds, so they don’t really have to think about it,” Officer Hamilton said of the skills kids learn during the two-day event.
Warner said communities the LEC serves often associate police officers with negative interactions and both her and Officer Hamilton praised the program for flipping the stereotype.
“I think it shows kids we’re here to be friendly, we’re here to help,” said Hamilton. “We’re not here to be the bad guys.”
You can learn more about the LEC Safety Town here.