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Children honored for heroics

June 13, 2004|By HEATHER C. SMATHERS

When a fire broke out in an apartment building next door to Meghan Lynch's home on May 6, she wasted no time calling 911 and alerting the apartment building's occupants.

After calling 911, Meghan ran into the apartment building and began knocking on the doors to get the occupants out, said Mike Weller, public educator with the Hagerstown Fire Department. She then started assembling them at a meeting point to wait for the fire department to arrive, Weller said.

Meghan's heroic act and others like it were honored at an awards ceremony Saturday at the 13th annual Kids Alive Fest at Children's Village of Washington County. Meghan, 7, was one of six children honored at the event.

Sisters Alisha Cox, 11, and Karrie Wood, 8, were inducted into the Children's Village Hall of Fame for their quick thinking when a fire broke out in their family home in January. Both Alisha and Karrie had participated in the learning activities at Children's Village as second-graders at Pangborn Elementary School, in conjunction with the life-safety curriculum at all Washington County schools.

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"We learned how to stop, drop and roll and fire safety (in the program)," Karrie said.

Also inducted into the Children's Village Hall of Fame were Shawn Kinzer, 11, Kendra Ahalt, 9, and Malik Adams, 6. The three children were walking through their neighborhood and noticed smoke coming from an apartment building. They tried to warn adults, Weller said, but no one would listen to them. They ran to the home of Michelle Ahalt, Kendra and Malik's mother, to tell her.

"I thought they were joking at first," Ahalt said. But when Kendra ran out to wait for the fire department after dialing 911, Ahalt knew it was no joke.

Kendra and Shawn credited their quick thinking and actions to the training they received at Children's Village.

A moment of silence and remembrance was observed in honor of Michael Callas, who passed away May 31.

"Mike was instrumental in the creation of the Children's Village," Weller said. "He really wanted to take part in the creation of the Children's Village. He believed in what we do here."

The open house, an annual fund-raiser for the nonprofit organization, was an opportunity for parents and community members to see what is taught at Children's Village. Attendees were able to simulate 911 calls and training on how to stay calm in a frightening situation, witness a demonstration by the Maryland Correctional Institute's K-9 unit, get their children fingerprinted and receive DNA kits.

Anna Giancola said she was glad to get the DNA kit.

"You keep your child's DNA in the freezer. That way if they are ever lost, you have their DNA on hand," she said.

Children's Village was designed in the 1980s to teach second-graders personal safety, stranger danger, drug and alcohol training and pedestrian safety.

Rochelle Morrell, executive director of Children's Village, said all second-graders in the county come through the program, whether public, private or home schooled. Annually, the village teaches 1,600 county students, she said.

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