LAKE JACKSON — Sections of lines covered the gym floor at A.P. Beutel Elementary School, representing street lanes and crossroads. Tiny, excited children drove on plastic trikes around small businesses and buildings, all part of a miniature-sized city named SafetyTown.
The SafetyTown program, started by the Brazosport Rotary Club and hosted by Brazosport Independent School District, has brought kids into a school for classes where soon-to-be first-graders listen to speakers, work on projects, watch films, eat snacks and meet emergency workers such as fire officials and police officers.
About 225 students will go through the remainder of the course, which ends June 13.
The free course covers topics that include beach safety, what to do in a fire, stranger danger, how to react to home emergencies, dangerous chemicals, pedestrian safety and more, Educational Coordinator Barbara Franklin said.
“It’s pretty comprehensive,” she said.
The goal is to keep kids informed and safe in a dangerous situation, Franklin said.
“It is a very well-run program,” she said. “I really do think so.”
Wearing her SafetyTown shirt around the county, she’s gotten comments from parents and residents about the program, Franklin said.
“I think parents have heard about it,” she said.
After more than 30 years of instruction, Franklin has seen SafetyTown students grow up, return as teen volunteer assistants then return to enroll kids of their own, she said.
She knows the program does a consistent job each year instilling safety knowledge into children, Franklin said.
Students discuss anything and everything about safety, volunteer Sharon Hill said.
There is a safety rule taught to students each day, such as when you don’t know, don’t go, Hill said.
On Thursday, students learned about “Mr. Yuck,” a way to get children properly informed about poison control, Hill said.
The program serves the safety needs of students in a fun, exciting way, Brazosport ISD Public Relations Administrator Karla Christman said.
“They literally put together a town,” she said.
It is essential to help guide students and teach them to be safe in any type of situation, Christman said.
Six-year-old Decker Percle was excited to “drive” around and explore SafetyTown, he said.
He has learned a lot of safety tips, including not talking to strangers, buckling your seatbelt in the car and police officers’ jobs, Percle said.
Different groups participate in SafetyTown and it takes manpower and hours from volunteers to put this together every year, Christman said.
“That’s the amazing thing about this,” she said.
It is a collaborative effort but teaching children about the dangers and risks of strangers, poisons and staying safe around traffic is a priority, Christman said.
“It works really well,” she said.