Poland girl wins 'Safest Kid' contest



It is the second time the Poland third-grader has won the national contest.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
POLAND -- Evyenia Spencer is one of the "Safest Kids in America."
The Poland North Elementary School third-grader is one of six children across the country selected as a "Safest Kid in America" for 2006 by The Safe America Foundation in Atlanta.
The Safest Kid in America competition has been encouraging kids to create safety messages for other kids and even safety programs in their neighborhoods for over nine years.
Previous winners have spearheaded campaigns that led to local government ordinances dealing with neighborhood violence, creating drawings supporting military protection for homeland security, and initiating a smoke-alarm installation and maintenance program in communities.
Evyenia, 9, daughter of Joe and Irene Spencer, is no stranger to the Safest Kid winner's circle. She also won in 2004 as a first-grader, a year when only two winners were selected nationally.
Evyenia was awarded a 1,000 savings bond for her 2006 entry, a poster urging all states to adopt booster-seat laws for passengers 4 to 9 years old. She also won a 1,000 bond in 2004.
About Evyenia
Irene Spencer described her daughter as "an average 9-year-old" in terms of artistic ability.
Evyenia is safety conscious, her mother said, noting that she and her husband have always stressed seat belt and bicycle safety.
Evyenia said her favorite things are riding her bicycle, reading and baking with her mom.
Irene Spencer said she was surprised that Evyenia won the competition -- both times.
"They get a ton of different entries from everywhere," she said.
Evyenia took it all in stride.
"She wasn't all that surprised. She was just happy," her mother said.
Irene Spencer gave credit to North Elementary Principal Michael Masucci for encouraging children in his school to get involved in these types of programs. They get an opportunity to participate in a lot of different projects through his efforts, she said.
Evyenia's 2004 entry involved a poster on driveway safety for children, encouraging them to draw a chalk line for safety and not to cross that line into the street.
Kids teaching kids
"There is no better way for kids to learn more about safety than by creating ways to teach other kids," says Len Pagano, the CEO of Safe America Foundation. "The Safest Kid in America program recognizes that safety is an important issue for children, and it permits them to use their creativity to express their concern to and for others."
The Safe America Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on emerging issues affecting safety at home, work and in play.
The Safest Kid in America competition is sponsored nationally by the Campbell Soup Co., Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Publix Super Markets. It is open to children 5 to 13 and has drawn more than 10 million entries for more than nine years. The deadline for the 2007 contest is June 30. For more information, visit the Web site www.safeamericakids.org.
gwin@vindy.com

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