(TNS) - Under the watchful eye of Norman police officers, children ages 5 and 6 learned the rules of the road Tuesday at Safety Town in the Sooner Mall parking lot.
Founded in 1977, Safety Town is a collaborative effort from Norman first responders and the Sooner Mall to teach bicycle, fire and emergency safety to children. The week begins with classroom safety training and then progresses into hands-on learning guided by police officers, firefighters and paramedics, Norman, Okla., Police Sgt. Tim Smith said. Upon completion of the program, participants receive a certificate, goodie bag and bicycle helmet.
“We cover all the emergencies we hope they never encounter,” Smith said.
Norman resident Kaci Graves said all five of her children have participated in Safety Town over the years, enjoying most the sense of freedom the small community provides.
She said her youngest daughter, Avery, will complete her second and final year of Safety Town at the end of this week.
“It’s a miniature thing where they’re understanding how life works,” Graves said. “We’re not even allowed in; there’s an officer guarding the door. There’s an independence about it.”
Along with being entertaining, Graves said Safety Town has effectively taught her children common-sense safety measures, such as always wearing seat belts and never texting while driving.
“If I start the car without having my seat belt on already, they’ll start yelling ‘mom, safety violation’ in the back seat.” Graves said.
Public Safety Information Officer Sarah Jensen said the Norman Police Department has found it is important to begin teaching safety measures to children at an early age.
“We know this is when children are starting to learn those key safety habits that they will carry throughout their lives,” Jensen said.
For more information about Safety Town, visit SoonerMall.com. To register for the free program, children must be 5 years old by June 1 and cannot turn 7 before July 1. Several sessions will run through the end of June.
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