By Jo Mathis
AAPS District News Editor
Thousands of AAPS graduates over the past 35 years have warm memories of attending Safety Town for a week during the summer before they entered kindergarten.
Whether it’s listening to Buster the talking bus, riding a trike through a kid-sized “Safety Town Ann Arbor,” or practicing the so-important stop, drop, and roll, Safety Town is a right of passage for the younger set.
The goal is to help children understand and practice important safety skills using a fun and engaging curriculum.
“Kids love coming to Safety Town,” said Jessica Cruz, AAAPS’ Safety Town director.
Safety Town was founded by an Ohio policeman in l937 as a traffic safety education program for pre-kindergarten children and gradually expanded across the country.
“We have the whole community rallying together to make Safety Town successful,” Cruz said.
DTE and Eastern Michigan University, for instance, partner to bring in Louie the Lightning Bug, which teaches electricity safety. WISD provides bus service. And guest speakers include police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers, and bike safety specialists.
Songs, games, stories and art projects reinforce the lessons about safety regarding bikes and vehicles, strangers, fire safety; pedestrian safety; and riding a school bus.
The Rec & Ed department offers four one-week programs through the month of July, with about 200 children attending each week.
Safety Town is one of Rec & Ed’s most popular summer educational programs, according to Executive Director Jenna Bacolor.
“Over the years, we’ve heard from many families that the safety lessons the students learned helped avoid injuries,” she said. “We’re proud to continue the Safety Town tradition with updated lessons for children growing up in the 21st century.”