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District to unveil Safety Kids program in Waynesboro

February 25, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Things are different today than they were when Sherian Diller taught third-graders.

"Back then, we told the children to be careful in the street, about school bus safety and not to talk to strangers," said Diller, principal of Mowrey Elementary School and director of elementary education for the Waynesboro Area School District.

This year, the district is introducing a Safety Kids Inc. program in its four elementary schools - Mowrey, Fairview Avenue, Hooverville and Summitview. The district's elementary program runs from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Safety Kids is a personal safety program aimed at children in kindergarten through fourth grade, Diller said. The goal, she said, "is to better educate children who, in turn, will be better able to protect and keep themselves safe in today's society."


It will be done gradually, be consistent and be repetitive from one grade level to the next so the concepts can be reinforced each school year, she said.

Lesson topics are designed to teach children the following:

  • How to check their surroundings so they can be aware of potentially dangerous situations.

  • How to be safe when home alone, including following simple rules such as keeping doors locked and not letting anyone in.

  • Safe use of the Internet.

  • How to say "no" to such dangerous situations as handling guns, being touched inappropriately by an adult or being lured by an adult with candy, food, money, toys and the like into harmful situations.

The information is practical and taught in a way that young children can understand through role-playing, music, toys and artwork that carry messages.

"Charlie Check First," is a stuffed toy that warns children to always check their surroundings to be aware of what is around them.

"Hopefully, the role playing will help them if a real situation comes along," Diller said. "I'm excited that all these lessons are being taught in a consistent manner across the district," she said.

The program also encourages children to develop self-esteem and tolerance, she said.

Diller said the district needed to revise and upgrade its child safety curriculum and the Safety Kid's Inc. program, which was developed by a nonprofit group for use by classroom teachers, fit the bill.

"We had to update our safety curriculum with topics that children of today could encounter," she said. "When I was teaching third grade we never talked about guns."

The district's teachers have embraced the program.

"Teachers know the importance for children to be safe," she said.

The school board approved it earlier this month.

Diller said it will be evaluated at the end of the school year and may lead to programs for students in grades 5 and 6.

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