Meghan Kautman, a 2010 graduate, participated in Zonta Club's Safety Town as a child. Now, she is a volunteer for the annual event, held this week, Monday through Friday, at in Fenton.
"I love the little kids," Kautman said. "It's a lot of fun teaching the kids about safety, and you get to interact with them on a regular basis."
As a participant in the program, which is for children going into kindergarten, she remembers the fire trucks the most, playing outside and a visit from dogs to learn pet safety. "I definitely loved it," she said.
Zonta Club of Fenton member Terry Tibbitts is another strong believer in Safety Town. It's her 17th year as a teacher for it.
"You are teaching safety issues to children, and if one of their lives is saved along the way, you've done your job," said Tibbitts, also a teacher at Linden's Hyatt Elementary School. "This is an adorable age, and they're so open to new ideas. They go home and tell their parents."
Sylvia Butts, a longtime Safety Town organizer, and Ann Keipert, a Fenton High School graduate and teacher for a private school in Farmington Hills, joined Tibbitts in teaching this year's Safety Town sessions. In addition, Safety Town had visits and safety tips from the and , and Transportation Department. Retired Linden Community Schools elementary teacher Sue Brody, who plays the guitar, visited for a music session with the children.
On Thursday, Fenton bus drivers Tammy Harper and Connie Kirchoff brought a school bus to Safety Town, for children to ride on and learn about. Together, they explained how school bus passengers need to talk quietly so drivers can listen for emergency sirens and trains, for example. In addition, students can keep their back packs on their laps but not in the bus aisle. "You can't run, push or shove when you are waiting for the bus," Harper said.
Other information the students received included bicycle, water, playground and toy safety, and avoiding poisons, Tibbitts said.
Safety Town includes a mini village, complete with buildings, roads and street signs. Children practice going through it, learning how to obey the signs and stay safe. They pass City Hall or the Police Station, for example, going along The French Laundry Blvd. and over railroad tracks.
Local businesses and other members of the community helped sponsor Safety Town, providing donations for houses in the "village," bicycles, helmets, street signs and food. Children's parents received information on the program through their kindergarten registration packets, and approximately 112 youngsters from the local area participated in the three sessions. A graduation ceremony for the Safety Town participants was scheduled Friday.
A big favorite with the children was bicycle safety — wearing helmets and riding the bicycles took place a few times during the week. Jackson Shaw, who will be going into kindergarten in Linden, said that was his favorite part of Safety Town.
Nick Tibbitts, 8, grandson and helper for Terry Tibbitts, agreed. "We pretend this is the road, and you have to follow the signs," Nick said. "You've got to stay on the right side of the road."
Volunteer , who will be a junior at Fenton High School in the fall, said she remembers the bicycle safety lessons from when she was a child participating in them. "I still want to ride the bikes," Wujciak said.
Like Kautman, she has volunteered her time for Safety Town before. "I've been doing this for a couple years," Wujciak said. "I like the little kids, and it's just fun to watch them work and keep them going and experiencing different things."
A Linden student, Melanie Alger, also volunteered for Safety Town. She was having fun, Alger said. "The kids are my favorite part."
Linda Finch, a friend of Tibbitts, also helped with Safety Town. "It's a really impressive program," Finch said. "The young children get to be around interested teenagers. Some of them were in this program as kids."