LAKEMORE Safety was first at Springfield Junior and Senior High School from Aug. 8-10 during the community Safety Town program.
Kids that were registered to enter kindergarten for the current school year were eligible to sign up for the program. More than 30 future kindergartens were seen bringing their bikes into the school where they learned the safety rules of "driving," crossing the street and courtesy to others on the roads. The safety students rode their bikes and Little Tykes coupes on a large mat made especially for the program. It was designed with roads, cross walks and railroad tracks for a hands-on understanding the ins and outs of safety. Familiar buildings from the township and village lined the streets - police department, fire department, Sherwin Williams, the school and many others.
Keeping safety in mind, the program was designed to incorporate many areas, including "My Body Belongs to Me," a program teaching children about good touches and bad touches that was conducted by school guidance counselors Charlene Mass and Thom Eby. Also, Springfield Police officer Billie Laurenti showed the children police equipment, uniforms and a cruiser, and taught them all about what police officers do for the community. The Lakemore Fire Department gave the kids a tour of a fire truck and talked about fire safety. Jason Main from Akron Coach loaded a police car onto a flatbed tow truck after letting each child have a chance to push levers to do their part to make the flat bed move. "Stranger Danger" was presented by Community Policing Officer Dan Rafferty, who also was the coordinator of the three-day program. The kids appeared to enjoy getting a chance to see how loud they could each yell "stranger, stranger."
Each child received a Safety Town T-shirt in red, yellow or green, the color of a traffic light. They also received a bike helmet from Akron Children's Hospital Poison Control.
Springfield Local Schools Superintendent Chuck Sincere and Springfield Police Chief Dave Hoover passed out graduation certificates and shook each child's hand congratulating them on their success.
Coordinator of VASP (Volunteer Auxiliary Springfield Police) and co-coordinator of Safety Town Linda Lohr said they were very appreciative of the support from the school system. She said educators volunteered their time to be a part of the program.
"We had so much participation from the school and educators," she said. "It was gratifying to see them participate."
Along with educators, community volunteers helped with check in and check out. Other volunteers included police officers, fire fighters and other community resource people.
Lohr said she and Rafferty believe the second year of Safety Town went very well and the relocation to the high school was helpful.
"We enjoy it and are grateful for how people come together to help put on the programs for our community policing department," Lohr said. "It is so wonderful to see the kids having fun and to know that someday what the kids learned may save a life and help them to be a little wiser.
Lohr said it is a positive in today's society when sometimes bad things happen.
"It takes a lot of hours to plan it but when everyone comes together, the fruits of our labor are well rewarded," said Lohr.