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Safety Day educates second graders with life lessons for harmful situations


Anthony Ruiz / The Sun-Telegraph

South Elementary second grader Keian Kaiser, 8, demonstrates "stop, drop and roll" while wearing a vest covered in velcroed-on "fire" cutouts during Thursday's Safety Day, held at the Lodgepole Valley Safety Camp in Sidney.

More than 160 Cheyenne County second grade students spent all day Thursday at the Lodgepole Valley Youth Camp in Sidney learning how to stay safe during the 2016 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day.

Safety Day is a collaborative effort that brings volunteers and experts from around the area to provide students information and hands-on activities that teach them how to stay safe in a variety of situations they might encounter at home, in town or on a farm.

The program began 24 years ago after Sidney teacher Krysti Nienhueser and Karen DeBoer with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office attended a 4-H meeting regarding children safety.

"They talked aboutchildren that had died living on a farm," Nienhueser said. "And I had three children, and we lived on a farm, and I thought, 'I never, ever want to know a person who has lost a child because of an accident on a farm.'"

Since then, Safety Day has been an annual event for second grade students in Cheyenne County, with thousands of children participating through the years.

"It's the entire county," Cheyenne County UNL Extension Educator Cynthia Gill said. "So Leyton, Potter-Dix, Sidney and Creek Valley are all here."

Gill said she believed second grade is a good level to begin offering safety education.

"It's the age where students are beginning to form ideas about how to behave," she said.

Throughout the day, second graders moved in groups to different stations spread across the camp, both indoors and outdoors. Each station provided 20 minutes of education, along with a demonstration, activity, or both, before a bell sounded, prompting groups to go on to the next one.

"It's general safety," Gill said. "It's more than just Ag safety. We expanded it to include general safety that can be applicable to everyone, but all of these same issues pertain to those who live on a farm as well.

"We try to find activities that can benefit all students."

Topics covered at this year's Safety Day included disability awareness, tractor safety, bicycle safety and "stranger danger," weather safety, mosquito safety, "stop, drop and roll," hearing protection, chemical look alikes, and water safety featuring a song and dance with "Josh the Otter."

Sidney 4-H'er Setti Rocha, who portrayed "Josh the Otter" during Safety Day, said the event was a really fun experience for her.

"I volunteer a lot with 4-H," Rocha said. "And this was something that I thought I would love to do."

Anthony Ruiz / The Sun-Telegraph

Potter-Dix second grade students hug "Josh the Otter," portrayed by 14-year-old 4-H'er Setti Rocha, after learning about water safety during Safety Day.

A transplant from California, 14-year-old Rocha said she never had the opportunity to participate in Safety Day as a second grader, but said she finds the program invaluable in teaching the younger children how to recognize harmful situations and what to do when they encounter them.

"This is my second year doing (Safety Day), and I love it," she said.

Assisting with the 2016 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day were the Western Nebraska Community College, 21st Century Equipment, the Sidney Police Department, the National Weather Service of Cheyenne, the Panhandle Public Health District, the Sidney Fire Department, ESU, the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation, Sidney Regional Medical Center, the Lodgepole Valley Youth Camp, the Cheyenne County Farm Bureau, the Cheyenne County 4-H Council and the University of Nebraska Extension office in Cheyenne County.


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