Kids' Guide 2011

A fun-for-all helping of the area’s best activities, learning tools, gathering places and more for little Main Liners.

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Coloring sheets from Safe Kids USA.Safety First

We’re right to worry about our children. Toddlers dart toward stairs, the bigger kids explore the streets, and the even bigger ones are born stunt devils. When parents find their heads spinning and wondering what safety topic to cover next, they can look to Safe Kids USA, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to alert the whole family about ways to avert accidental injury.

In our area, Safe Kids Chester County makes its mark at various moms’ clubs, community groups and schools, including the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s Head Start centers, Uwchlan Hills Elementary School, Phoenixville’s Renaissance Academy Charter School, Bishop Shanahan and Bayard Rustin high schools, and West Chester University. Based in West Chester, the branch operates through a partnership between the Chester County Highway Safety Project and the Chester County Department of Children, Youth & Families.

For the younger lot, offers downloadable lesson plans, coloring sheets and games on fire safety, pedestrian awareness and more. Trained volunteers demonstrate the “10-foot rule” when standing by a school bus and preach the obvious dangers of loitering behind one. They teach proper seatbelt technique in cars and that children should not sit in a front seat until age 13.

“Our biggest focus area is seatbelt usage,” says volunteer co-coordinator Lori Aguilera, who’s the project director for Highway Safety. “It’s surprising for me to [see] that there are less people who buckle up at nighttime—and it’s always the younger teenage kids who don’t.”

That’s why safety education gets more serious in middle school, with crash stats and videos of real accidents in the coalition’s “Survival 101” program. Rest assured, talking and texting on cell phones top the list of no-no’s. And the preteen through college crowds learn how a DUI can, among other things, derail their career plans.

Newborns also benefit from Safe Kids. Expectant mothers can take birthing classes at Paoli and Phoenixville hospitals, or get their car seats installed at one of the two inspections held each month at the West Goshen Township Police Department. Paoli received the Chester County Safe Kids Appreciation Award in July 2010 for hosting multiple four-hour car-seat checks and otherwise proving its commitment to patient safety.

Safe Kids installed 480 seats in 2010, and it also runs a car-seat donation program, with private and grant funding from groups like the Chester County Health Department and State Farm Insurance. Aguilera says two parents personally thanked her after they both had car accidents in which their children came away unharmed.

“I’m teaching people something they have no knowledge about that can save their kids’ lives,” says Aguilera, a mother of a 10- and 13-year-old. “I wish someone did these types of programs when [my kids] were younger.”

For Safe Kids' tips on how to properly seat your child in a vehicle, click here.

To return to the Kids' Guide index, click here.