Children learn to be safe through new Parks and Rec program

<p><strong>A child completes a bicycle safety course at Sunset Elementary School during the City of Hermiston’s Safety Town program Thursday.</strong></p>

When Rachel Moore’s son dove head first into the concrete two years ago because the frame connecting his front wheel to the rest of the bicycle snapped, she planned to do whatever she could to raise awareness about bicycle safety so it wouldn’t happen to somebody else.

Her son, Caleb Moore, now 12, suffered a traumatic brain injury from the accident and will be dealing with the effects for the rest of his life. Traumatic brain injuries, however, aren’t specific to just children on bicycles, Rachel Moore said.

“This could happen to anyone,” she said.

Last year, Moore approached the City of Hermiston’s Parks and Recreation Department to see if a class on bicycle safety could be offered. Staff did her one better. Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter decided to bring what is known as Safety Town to Hermiston to give area children the chance to participate in activities related to all different types of safety. Moore agreed to teach the program.

Recreation Supervisor Dan Earp said Fetter decided to bring the program to Hermiston after working with the program at his previous job on Mercer Island, Wash.

“He said he wanted to do it, but at the time, the city just didn’t have the funding for the program,” Moore said.

This year, Parks and Rec staff had the funds to bring the program to Hermiston, which took place Monday through Thursday this week at Sunset Elementary School.

On Monday, the students participated in a variety of exercises related to water safety. The children learned what they should do to be safe around and in water, as well as the importance of wearing a life jacket, boat safety and more. Students also took part in some hands-on activities including a life-jacket relay and a sink-or-float activity.

Tuesday, they participated in fire safety-related activities and heard from area firefighters about their job and what the children should do if they are involved in a fire. Firefighters also came and sprayed the children with water from a fire hose before showing them how the fire truck operates.

On Wednesday, Hermiston police officer Erica Sandoval explained the basic elements of being a police officer, in addition to pedestrian safety, how police officers are people’s friends and more.

Sandoval also talked about the items officers carry on their police belt. The children were mostly interested in her Taser, which they got to see spark once the darts from the device had been safely removed by Sandoval.

During the final day, students learned about bicycle safety. They had the chance to complete a bicycle safety course, which featured chalk-drawn miniature streets, miniature road signs and even a playhouse posing as a miniature house. As students made their way through the course, they had to use the correct hand signs when stopping at miniature stop signs to indicate they were turning left or right onto the other miniature streets.

Students also decorated bicycle helmets with stickers, learned about traffic signals and how to obey them and more. They were then presented with a certificate stating they completed the course.

Moore said she felt the camp was worthwhile for the city and that the children benefited from what they learned.

“It’s been fun,” she said. “This just gets the kids to know (about how to be safe). You think they know, but some really don’t know. I think they had a lot of fun, and all of these things will help them just remember what they are supposed to do. They won’t remember everything, but at least it is exposing them to these different situations.”

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