Safety Town comes to Andover Program aims to connect kids with helpers
Rourke Day of the Lakeland Emergency Squad talks to incoming kindergartners about the squad's ambulance, as Ptl. Mike Haggerty of the Andover Township Police Department helps the children down the stairs.
Photos by Mandy Coriston
by Mandy Coriston Andover — The Safety Town program for incoming kindergartners began Monday morning, July 9, at Florence M. Burd Elementary School, as the eighteen children in attendance were treated to a visit from the Lakeland Emergency Squad. The program is designed to introduce the kids to all manner of community helpers, as well as get them oriented to the school environment. The children began their day with a tour of an ambulance and an up-close view of all the equipment on the rescue truck, provided by Rourke Day of the Lakeland Emergency Squad, and under the watchful eye of “Officer Mike” (Ptl. Mike Haggerty) of the Andover Township Police Department. Before the kids headed inside for snack time, Day gave them a thrill by running a short blast of the ambulance siren. “We try to be involved with the schools, to teach kids that the police and other services are here to help. It’s important that the kids aren’t afraid of us, and that they learn about safety,” Haggerty said, “It’s really special, because I get to see my friends’ kids, and other children from my community, and it’s a lot of fun.” Haggerty was eager to show off the actual “Safety Town”- roads, road signs, and buildings set up in the school’s multi-purpose room. The faux village is constructed to teach kids about road rules and bicycle safety. “We also make sure their helmets are fitted properly, and teach them the importance of always wearing their safety equipment,” Haggerty said. Fourth-grade teacher and program coordinator Lauren Huffman said, “This is about teaching the kids about community and safety, as well as get them prepared to enter kindergarten. We’ll also have visits from Smokey the Bear and the Forest Fire Service, as well as Atlantic Air with their helicopter. The kids will also get to practice going through the lunch line and go on a short school bus ride.” In addition to the bike safety activities, the school preparation, and the community visitors, the children will also be instructed on how to use 911, and parents will receive a DNA/Missing Child Kit to complete in case of emergency. Andover Regional School District Paraprofessional Candice Coston is assisting Huffman with the program, as well as teenage volunteers, who were previously students of Huffman’s. At the end of the two-week program, the children will have a Safety Town graduation ceremony and get a certificate of completion.