Tuesday, June 22, 1999

When to stop, when to go


Safety Town held at Tri-County

BY MARIE McCAIN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPRINGDALE — Under a shaded incline in the multilevel parking garage outside Tri-County Mall's Lazarus store, 41/2-year-old Conrad Junker was learning to drive.

        His small feet pumped the pedals of the miniature car he steered and then quickly reversed as he noticed the red light in the intersection just ahead.

        “That's the way you do it,” said a teacher, as Conrad and his fellow preschool commuters halted their small vehicles in response to the traffic signal.

        Safety Town — now in its 37th year — has returned for the summer.

        Created in 1962 by Donald Stehmann, Springdale's first police chief, Safety Town was designed to teach children about traffic laws and to expose them to emergency personnel.

        The program has since branched out to include safety lessons on stranger contact, bicycles and pedestrians, school buses and demonstrations by Springdale's police and fire departments.

        There are about 40 children in each five-day session, with classes lasting from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Evening classes also are available.

        Registration is $10 per child, covering the cost of treats and supplies, and sessions last through the summer. (The last one begins Aug. 2.)

        Conrad is the last of Amy Junker's three children to attend Safety Town.

        The Loveland mother and her two older sons, Rob Brooks, 11, and Ryan Brooks, 8, watched last week as Conrad pedaled through the makeshift town of child-sized homes and stores along road ways with spray-painted center lines.

        “There's no other program I know of like it,” Mrs. Junker said of Safety Town. “It's a great way to introduce preschoolers to different safety procedures, and it's all done in an environment geared toward them.”

        Rob and Ryan agreed, saying their Safety Town experiences made them want careers as a police officer and a firefighter, respectively.

        At the end of each session, children are given a certificate to show they've completed the classes.

        Springdale Patrolman Gary Huddleston knows the effect Safety Town has on children. “The girls still talk about what they learned in Safety Town,” he said, referring to his daughters, Laura, now 19, and Janna, now 14.

        “This is something that will only sink in if parents instill it in their kids and talk with them about what they've learned here,” he said.

        Children should be 41/2 to 51/2 years old, officials said. Parents should register at the customer service desk on the lower level of Tri-County Mall.

        For information, call 671-0120.

       



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