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Grant, donations give Children's Village a boost

June 14, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / STAFF WRITER

Stalled expansion plans for the Children's Village Safety Center got a jump start with $75,000 in matching funds and donations from local business and organizations.

The shell of a classroom building at the rear of the property on Mount Aetna Road was built six years ago but because of limited funds and volunteers the project moved at a snail's pace, said Xanthy Munson Hoover, Children's Village board treasurer.

The $75,000 in matching funds from the state will be used for construction work on the building, she said.

Additional building supplies and labor are being supplied through a partnership of Callas Contractors, the Homebuilders Association of Washington County and Lowe's, Hoover said.

The 4,500-square-foot building will be filled with interactive materials to be used to teach children about fire, traffic and water safety, she said.

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All second-graders in Washington County are required to attend safety education training at Children's Village.

Hands-on exhibits are critical to children fully understanding the topics discussed at Children's Village, said Mike Weller, fire safety instructor at Children's Village.

"It's the most effective way to present educational curriculum," Weller said.

"Children need to hear the concept, see the concept and then do the concept," he said.

A portion of the building's facade is a replica of the Brethren Mutual Insurance building in Hagerstown. In 1997, the company donated $50,000 to Children's Village, Weller said.

Children's Village consists of a main building with a classroom, auditorium and offices. A home gutted by a blaze was moved to the property to give children a chance to see the effects of fire.

Weller said Children's Village has outgrown its existing classroom building and needs extra space to hold more classes. Plans are in the works to finish paving a street that winds around the miniature buildings where children drive small cars and learn traffic and bike safety.

The mini-buildings are replicas of those of their sponsors - Washington County Hospital, Sheetz, Exxon and Dominos and simulate a child-size village.

The unfinished classroom building is separated into sections. One large room, which will be handicapped accessible, will be used as an indoor traffic, water and bike safety room. In bad weather, the area will be used for safety exercises usually done outdoors, he said.

A long hall separates the traffic, water and bike safety room from the fire safety room in which children will learn how to escape from a burning building and form an escape route.

Another room will be a Hagerstown City Police substation where children will learn about laws and police issues.

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