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New Spartans get safety tips

Friday, August 31, 2018

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Fire fighters let children sit in the fire truck on Aug. 9 for the annual Safety Village event at Glenwood Junior High School.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.The Smoke House was set up by local fire department officials to instruct incoming Kindergarteners on fire safety during the annual Safety Village event.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Children learned street crossing safety by walking through the safety village on Aug. 9 at Glenwood Junior High School during the annual Safety Village event.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.SRO Mike Salser read a book to one group of children during the annual Safety Village event on Aug. 9.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.On Board Instructor Lauri Woolley told children about proper bus safety during the annual Safety Village event on Aug. 9.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Fire fighters let children sit in the fire truck on Aug. 9 for the annual Safety Village event.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

Incoming kindergartners participated in Boardman’s annual Safety Village event Aug. 9 at Glenwood Junior High School.

The goal of the event was to promote positive relationships between kindergartners and safety officials, as well as get children ready to start school according to Debra Brothers, the supervisor of transportation.

All of the students who participated in safety day were part of the Boardman schools’ Success By Six program, a pre-kindergarten program partially funded by the United Way.

During the event, children were split into groups and sent around the parking lot to various stations where different safety officials met with them.

“This is very important for the kids,” Brothers said.

The most important portion, according to Amy Radinovic, the District Communications Coordinator, is the school bus safety station.

“For some of them this is the first time they’ve been on a school bus. They are going through all the rules of the road,” Radinovic said.

During this portion of the event one On Board Instructor for the district, Lauri Woolley, along with Tom Harris an OBI in training, taught children about how to act on the school bus and the different rules to follow.

On Board Instructors are professionals trained through the state of Ohio who are responsible for training bus drivers.

“Not every district has an On Board Instructor,” Brothers said. “I thought it was best to have our best, the ones who train the drivers, to do this.”

During the instruction from Woolley, children learned about the place of safety around the bus, the hand signals to look for from drivers and how to cross the street if they need to.

Harris, who sat behind the wheel of the bus, then walked children through the process, holding up his hand until they could enter and making sure children were aware of where they would sit and when they need to be silent, such as at rail road crossings.

“It gets them comfortable with that whole process,” Radinovic said.

According to Brothers, the instructors even told the children what to do if the bus passes them, telling them not to chase the bus, but instead go inside and have their parents call the district who can radio the driver to come back.

“It’s all about safety and I thought this was better then just giving them a ride on a bus,” Brothers said. “It’s a rewarding job, doing it for the kids.”

Lia Rudiak, the PTA Safety Village Coordinator, said that the most impact full thing is allowing the students to go through the safety processes, instead of just telling them about it.

“You can talk to them all you want but unless they have this, they aren’t going to understand,” Brothers said.

Along with the bus practice, the Safety Village event has children go through a smoke house where they can practice fire safety do’s and don’ts.

“The fire safety is everything. You can tell them find a window, you can make an escape plan but they actually let them run through all that,” Rubiak said.

Instructors from the Boardman Fire Department told the children the proper steps to evacuation in a fire emergency, and then let them practice exiting through the window of the trailer.

“There are things that I cannot teach them, until the first day of school. That’s very nerve racking as a parent, putting your little one on a bus and feeling safe putting them with someone else,” Rubiak said.

Police and Fire officials also allowed children to sit inside both a police car and a fire truck, and taught the students about stranger danger, as well as answering any questions they had.

School Resource Officer Mike Salser read a story to the children gathered, which Radinovic said is key to cultivating a positive relationship between law enforcement and children.

The event also had a safety village set up, where buildings the size of 5-year-olds are set up as a town with the streets and cross walks drawn on with chalk, said Rubiak.

“The kids walk through and they learn the proper ways to walk on the streets,” Rubiak said. “They learn about stop signs, yield signs, they learn not to jay walk. Its a lot.”

The children were also instructed in bicycle and car safety, including how to put on a bike helmet and buckle a seat belt.

“I think that’s great because there are a lot of kindergartners who still can’t properly buckle themselves in,” Rubiak said.

The children were broken into four main groups, and after they went through all of the sections they are given popsicles.

“Its hands on. I learn that way, my kids learn that way. By doing, they learn. You can tell them all you want but this actually drives it home and when you have someone else in authority, someone who actually does it, to tell them, it really does work out,” Rubiak said.

Brother said Ohio is one of the highest ranked states when it comes to children’s safety.

Officer Phil Merlo, who works at the Boardman schools, said that one way they are able to accomplish this is through an app called Here Comes the Bus, that allows parents and law enforcement officials to track the different bus routes.

“Very rarely a bus could be involved in a little fender bender, that will make it 10 minutes past the time that the bus should have dropped the kids off,” Merlo said. “Instead of the district getting flooded with calls for peace of mind they can check the app.”

All busses are also equipped with on board cameras with sound which helps law enforcement officials deal with any issues that may occur.

“I think this is a fantastic program,” Rubiak said. “I think this is the best way to prepare our future Spartans for a successful school year.”