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400-plus attend Thorsby Safety Day

By Scott Mims

Each group represented at Thorsby’s Safety Day served a different function, but all had a common goal Thursday — to promote the safety of kids.
More than 400 students and children from the community went to Richard Wood Park for the event, which coincided with Thorsby School’s annual S.K.I.P. Program started several years ago to teach students about the danger of predators and the lures they commonly use.
S.K.I.P. coordinator Angie Barnett and members of the Thorsby Police Department provided students with important contact information and asked them questions about what they learned over the past week.
“When you educate children on keeping their bodies safe and you do a preventive approach, it sends a message to sexual predators that they’re not welcome in that community,” Barnett said.
Familiarizing students with the tricks used by predators seems to make them more aware of how the bad guys think. Thorsby student Brady Watson, for example, said a predator could see a student’s name on a decal of a vehicle and then approach the student, pretending to be familiar with him or her.
At another station, representatives of Operation Lifesaver urged kids to steer clear of railroad tracks and to be alert whenever approaching tracks.
Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public education program started in 1972 to increase the public’s knowledge about trains and the responsibility of drivers around railroad crossings.
“We’re still doing the same thing,” said Nancy Hudson, Alabama Executive Director for Operation Lifesaver. “We talk to people and remind them to be careful at crossings.”
Later in the day Thursday, the group presented a program to driving-age students to coincide with prom weekend.
Members of the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department demonstrated a drug dog, SWAT gear and other equipment used in special operations.
Investigator Erric Price said they teach kids to never touch a gun and, if they should find one, to tell an adult.
“We want to make sure kids have a basic knowledge of firearm safety,” Price said.
The Thorsby Fire Department showed off their fire trucks and even let the kids have a shot at aiming a fire hose. Recent fire recruit school graduates Hunter Northcutt and Cody Beasley helped the students maintain control of the high-pressure hose as they attempted to knock tennis balls off of a target.
“We’re just kind of letting this be a fun day for the kids so they can look at the fire trucks, touch them and squirt a little water,” said Fire Chief Lee Gunn.
Also, in conjunction with the S.K.I.P. Program, Thorsby School and the Maplesville High School Beta Club partnered together to raise $2,340 for the Child Protect Advocacy Center through the Helping Hands Project.