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Program stresses safety to youths

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Paul Yackovich of the Yough Outdoors Club taught the students about many different aspects of safety.
MARILYN FORBES I FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW Dancing with Eddie Eagle are first-grade students Brayden Koshurba, 6, Abigail Zuran, 5, Dominic King, 5, and Ella Hixson, 5.

With hunting season just around the corner, members of the Yough Outdoors Club decided it would be a good time to host a safety program that would teach students in the district how to react if they come across a weapon.

All of the elementary students in kindergarten through third grade in the Yough School District recently received a visit from Eddie Eagle, the NRA mascot who helps with the program that stresses to young children the importance of safety.

“It's very important to teach children the importance of gun safety before it's too late,” Yough Outdoors Club member Paul Yackovich said. “The program is short but very informative, and the kids really enjoy it.”

The safety program featured a short video and handouts that the children worked on and also taught the students the catchy message that states, “If you see a gun, stop, don't touch, leave the area, tell an adult.”

“You never want to see an accident with a gun happen to anyone,” Yackovich said. “With hunting season coming up, there may be more guns around, and we want these kids to know what to do if they come across one. If we can save one life, then it's worth it.”

The Eddie Eagle program was started in 1988 and has reached more than 25 million children in all 50 states.

This program was developed through the combined efforts of such qualified professionals as clinical psychologists, reading specialists, teachers, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, and law enforcement personnel.

“Kids are so desensitized with movies and videos games and they may think that they are merely imitating what they see and pick up a gun,” Yough Outdoors Club member Jason Kramer said. “If we reach one child, then it's worth the effort.”

In addition to gun safety, the program also included safety information and warnings against talking to strangers, playing with matches and approaching strange animals.

Children are taught how to react to unsafe situations and who to contact in the event of danger.

The children who participated in the program all received a certificate, a sticker and a special coin, showing that they completed the program.

The Yough district offers the program every few years to keep the message of safety fresh in the students minds.

“If it wasn't for our superintendent Dr. (Janet) Sardon this wouldn't be possible,” Yackovich said. “We are so happy to be able to bring this program back to the elementary schools in our district. Its message is so important and could save one of these students' lives.”

The program was sponsored by the Yough Outdoors Club and the Herminie #2 Game Association.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.