South Plainfield Children Learn Valuable Skills at Safety Town

Safety Town session one graduates with the volunteers and teachers. Credits: Victoria Caruso
Nicholas Riccardo graduated from Safety Town and celebrated his 5th birthday on July 14. Credits: Victoria Caruso

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The first Safety Town session of 2017 concluded on July 14 and family and friends gathered in the PAL gym to watch the children show off the safety skills they learned during the South Plainfield Department of Recreation’s program.

“The kids were great and they loved coming everyday and were really excited,” said Cheryl Hughes, a middle school health teacher and high school coach who ran the program this year.

Over the course of two weeks, 24 children spent their mornings learning valuable safety skills, including bike, pedestrian, fire, poison, and pool safety as well as how and when to call 9-1-1. The gym at the PAL was transformed into a ‘safe’ town with a course comprised of homes and stores, traffic lights, and stop signs.

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Volunteer instructors, middle and high school students who attended Safety Town 'back in the day,'  taught the young children how to safely cross the street on foot and on a bike, how to watch out for pedestrians, and the importance of following traffic rules.

“I loved seeing the kids learn new things and absorb what we were teaching them,” said volunteer teacher Gianna Glover, an incoming freshman who herself attended Safety Town. “Safety is such a universal thing and so important for them to learn, especially today.”

“It’s such a good experience. They learning something new each day – whether it is how to safely cross the road or to stop at a stop sign,” said eighth grader Celeste Kuberiet, who also attended the Safety Town program when she was younger.

As part of the program, Safety Town participants also went on two fun and informative field trips, one to the South Plainfield Community Pool and another to the South Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department. At the pool, they learned about water safety and discussed the pool’s guidelines as well as had the opportunity to take a quick dip in the kiddie pool. At the fire department, volunteer members provided additional fire safety tips and students had chance to sit in the new fire truck and spray the fire hose into Spring Lake Park.

“Even though most parents do talk to their children about these safety concerns, it is nice for them to be able to come here and practice them with a group of children their own age,” said Hughes. “It’s a great way to reinforce these important skills.”

During Friday’s ‘graduation,’ the children showed off their bike and pedestrian safety skills and also performed  the safety songs “At the Curb,” “Stop, Look, and Listen” and “The Fire Song.” The program concluded with each participant earning a special stop sign diploma.

"The best part was riding the bikes around and going to the firehouse," said Nicholas Riccardo, who officially turned five years old and graduated from Safety Town on the same day. 'It was a lot of fun."

Hayley Spina, who will start kindergarten at Riley School in the fall, added, "My favorite trip was going to the pool and I liked the firehouse. I learned that I am a have to stop at the curve when riding my bike and to look left, right, left when crossing the street."

Congratulations to the first session of Safety Town 2017 graduates: Daniel Bali, Emma Basile, Leah Botti, Mya Cabrera, Logan Celentano, Victoria Conselina, Robert Hughes, Payton Kurilew, Ariana LaCross, Kaitlyn Levine, Mateo Matusz, Mason McConville, Charlie Miller, Julia Nowak, Grant Patterson, Linnea Perfilio, Fiona Ramdawar, Emma Raphel, Nicholas Riccardo, Luke Richkus, Mikayla Scala, Hayley Spina, Carly Stevens, Joyce Valcin, and Joey Valluzzi.

The South Plainfield Recreation Department has been hosting Safety Town for the past 15 summers; prior, the program was offered through the Junior Women’s Club. In the past, the program was run by Julie Anderson, a former South Plainfield teacher, and Franklin teacher Kiley Squier.

“Mrs. Squier did such a great job with this program for so many year,” said Hughes. “The program is a success because of her and all the volunteers, many Safety Town participants themselves who returned this year to help pick up right where we left off.”

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