Gabriela Lira, Lake Geneva Safety Town 2017 chairman, Geneva Lakes Women’s Association, gives opening remarks, at Safety Town graduation Friday at Lake Geneva Middle School. (Michael S. Hoey photo)

By Michael S. Hoey

Correspondent

Safety Town, an educational program for children entering kindergarten in the fall in Walworth County, graduated 62 kids on Friday at Lake Geneva Middle School.

The program is designed to teach kids safety lessons including water safety, fire safety, crossing the street, seat belts, stranger danger and good-touch, bad-touch. This was the 37th year the program has been running. It is put on by the Geneva Lake Women’s Association in cooperation with the Lake Geneva Jaycees.

Gabriela Lira, Lake Geneva Safety Town 2017 chairman and a member of the Geneva Lakes Women’s Association, said the biggest thing kids can get out of Safety Town is to remember to be safe when they are out in the community. She said they will remember to use a crosswalk when crossing the street and remind their parents to use their seatbelts if they are not already doing so.

“They are being told about it at home, this just reinforces that,” she said. “It’s a good starting point.”

Lira said it is important to teach the kids these lessons at this age because when they get older they will hear it again and that will reinforce what they already have learned.

Jessica Jooss, a 4K teacher at Central-Dennison in Lake Geneva and a Safety Town teacher, agreed that teaching safety at this age level is important.

“Any time you can teach children young it’s going to help them,” she said. “It gets them comfortable with community helpers like police officers and firefighters.”

Jooss also said the program helps kids at the right time. The kids get a week off of school and then come in for five days of three-hour sessions just as summer is starting, and they will be outside in the community and possibly around water.

“It’s a week of education they don’t normally get in school,” Jooss said.

Jooss said she thinks the most influential material in the curriculum is about fire safety. She said having the firefighters around, visiting the fire station and having the Walworth County Smokehouse brought to the school were all very influential.

“I just wanted him to learn about safety,” Matt Roemer said about why he enrolled his son, Emerson, in the program. “As he gets older, we want him to know the rules of life and how to make safe choices.”

Roemer said the most influential part of the program for Emerson has been learning what to do during an emergency.

“It’s not something we talk about every day,” he said.

Rachel Wollman enrolled her son, Cedric, because she took the class when she was his age and then volunteered when she was in high school.

“I know first-hand what a great opportunity it is to learn all the rules of safety and what a great community project it is,” Wollman said.

Wollman said she thinks road and fire safety were the two most influential things Cedric learned.

“I remember that from when I was in the program and it stuck with me for a long time,” she said. “It will be very valuable for him later in life.”

Lira said two morning classes and one afternoon class accommodated the 62 participants. She thanked the Lake Geneva police and fire departments for their help and support. The Walworth County Firefighters Association brought the Smokehouse to the school and the Lake Geneva Jaycees supplied the pedal cars the kids used to simulate cars and the buildings used to simulate a town on the course the kids practiced on.

A $500 scholarship was also awarded to former volunteer Amanda Herman, who just graduated from Badger High School and will be attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Lira said kids entering sixth through 12th grades can volunteer to help with the program, and Herman volunteered since 2011.

Lira said anyone interested in enrolling their child next June can visit the Geneva Lakes Women’s Association or Lake Geneva Jaycees websites and find a link to the program beginning next March.

 
 

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