Annual summer program Safety Town begins June 12

REED CITY — Registration is underway for an annual summer program to help children learn to better evaluate safe and unsafe situations they may encounter.

The 17th annual Reed City Safety Town will take place from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., each weekday from Monday, June 12, to Friday, June 23, at G.T. Norman Elementary School, 338 W. Lincoln Ave. There is a fee to participate.

Led by first-grade teacher Kylene Nix-Bookwalter, Safety Town is designed to teach 4-, 5- and 6-year-old children safety procedures by placing them in a real town atmosphere scaled to their size. Topics will include pedestrians in traffic, strangers, poisons, fire, playground, bicycles, matches, drugs, railroad crossings, seat belts, bus safety, animals and more. The elementary school will serve as a miniature town, complete with buildings for downtown, sidewalks, crosswalks, street signs and a working traffic light.

Under the guidance of two instructors and eight trained teenage volunteers, children will practice and experience "real life" situations before being confronted with these situations on their own, said Nix-Bookwalter.

"The neat thing about Safety Town is that it has a carry-over effect from the kids in the program to their parents, and also other children they may play with," she said. "It also reinforces what parents are teaching their children as well as brings more safety awareness into the home.

"Safety Town is taught with a variety of fun methods kids enjoy and remember."

Nix-Bookwalter said the most exciting and inviting part of the program is participating on the Safety Town lot, as half of the class act as pedestrians while the other half buckle up their vehicles equipped with seat belts and “cruise the town.”

The makeshift town is patrolled by law enforcement officials from the Michigan State Police, Osceola County Sheriff's Office and the Reed City Police Department, who help provide a positive influence and introduce the children to various officers in uniform. Reed City firefighters and Reed City Area Public Schools' bus staff also participate in Safety Town, Nix-Bookwalter said.

“This program would not be possible without the tremendous support from the community," she said. "Several businesses and organizations have made donations to Safety Town to offset costs and reduce the registration fee and provide 'Think Safety' sponsor shirts to participants.”

Registration is limited.

To register a child in this program or for more information, contact the Reed City Community Education office at (231) 832-5548 or Nix-Bookwalter at (231) 679-0408.