Thursday, June 4, 2015

Not your brother's Safety Town: 5 changes to improve this treasured program

Shanda Trent, Safety Town Coordinator and First Steps Parent Educator

Chances are, any teen you meet in Ann Arbor has "graduated" from Rec & Ed's Safety Town program. Summer for 5 and 6 year olds has meant learning about safety with Buster the School Bus, the Ann Arbor Fire Department & Smoke Simulation House, and of course, Louie the Lightning Bug. 

Riding around our child-size safety "town" is a highlight of every week
But even a favorite toy may need a bit of patching or painting. After reviewing the latest in child safety education and parent evaluations from the past few years, we've made 5 changes to Safety Town for this summer. 

1 of the changes we're most pleased to share is an updated presentation on Stranger Safety. Of course, we still emphasize the message "never go with a stranger." But what should a child do if she finds herself separated from her grown-up? Starting this summer, children will learn about "Safer Strangers" and "Tricky People." As always, parents are welcome to attend this segment of the Safety Town program, which happens on Wednesdays. 

2 new guest presenters will share their expertise:
  • Goldfish Swim School will help us learn to be safe around water -- just in time for summer fun at pools and lakes. 
  • Local members of the group Moms Demand Action will share a new Be SMART for Kids Gun Safety Presentation with parents. This non-political presentation focuses on what we all can do -- whether we own guns or not -- to prevent the tragedies that result when children have access to unsecured guns. This presentation is for parents. 
Example of the mosaic bus craft
- every one is unique!
3 new crafts (tested by preschoolers in the First Steps program!) are the Firefighter Finger Puppet, Mosaic School Bus, and Traffic Light Toss game. These crafts play to children's creative instincts while reinforcing important safety messages. 

4 "Centers" at drop-off time. Children will have safety-themed activity centers with fun games and crafts to choose from during the critical time between parent drop-off and the start of the session. Saying good-bye should be easier, and this set-up mimics what they'll see in Kindergarten in the fall. 

5 complete class sessions. Parents spoke, and we listened. New this year, children will have five complete half-day sessions of Safety Town, instead of early release on Friday. We'll still offer a brief safety program for parents on Fridays, then parents will go to their child's classroom for a presentation of what the children learned during the week. 

BONUS: We brainstormed and came up with a clever way for our outstanding Officer Tom to be in all classrooms at all times. No, we didn't clone him. You'll just have to join us to learn the mystery! 

Registration is now open for the morning Safety Town program and extended (afternoon) Safety Town Camp. Who's eligible? Children who are entering Young 5's or who have completed Young 5's, children entering Kindergarten, and children entering 1st grade. Yes, children can take Safety Town more than once! Click here for more information and to register. Questions? Call Sherri at (734) 994-2300 x53186. 

Please help us spread the word about the improvements to this well-loved community program by sharing via your own social media. 


  1. Is AAPS developing a Safety Town 2 similar to the program offered in Plymouth? It is designed for ages 6-9, and it teaches them about digital citizenship, cyber bullying, and Internet safety (among other topics). I'd love to see this as a future offering in Ann Arbor.

  2. We will look into that, Aimee! Thanks for the suggestion.