Safety Kids founder retires after three decades of service
For three decades, Diane Brown of Penn Hills has been working to keep kids safe through the initiatives of the nonprofit she started in the early '80s, Safety Kids Inc.
Brown, 61, was honored last year as a recipient of the YMCA's Community Champion Award for her work educating children about strangers, reporting crimes to law enforcement and general safety.
Now, after 30 years, Safety Kids will be changing hands. Brown has been looking for a new entity to head up the program for the past year, and found it recently in the Arizona Crime Prevention Association (ACPA), a group she has worked with for more than a decade.
“It's an excellent group of law enforcement and people interested in crime prevention,” Brown said. “In the course of working with them, I've trained hundreds of instructors in their group. They've used our material throughout Arizona, and they're very proactive and a cutting-edge type of organization when it comes to preventing crime and violence.”
While Arizona is one of the states where Brown's Safety Kids curriculum is used widely, the change in ownership won't mean a change in service or commitment, she said.
“They don't work just in Arizona,” Brown said. “They're going to continue the work that I started, but they'll be based in the Southwest rather than the Northeast. However, their plans are to extend out to other areas … when they have trainin sessions, they're going to be open to anyone from across the country.”
Officer Korey Sneed, an ACPA board member, said the organization is excited to be taking over Safety Kids.
“Diane has really created an amazing program,” Sneed said.
As far as the local aspects of the program, Brown said its continued use will be up to the Penn Hills School District and the Penn Hills police, who both utilize its curriculum.
The Safety Kids' website, Safetykids.org, is still active, but this summer it will change over to the ACPA's website. The Safety Kids name will remain, and the same information will be available, Brown said, adding that no matter who is in charge of the program, she wants to see children protected.
“It's been very rewarding knowing that children are safe, and that parents feel comfortable with their child's safety,” she said. “I've gotten letters and phone calls from parents, police departments and schools saying, ‘This is what happened here, and it wouldn't have happened without this program.'”
Brown said she wanted to thank the Penn Hills community and police. “That's where I got started in 1982,” she said. “They gave me the go-ahead to try some programs and go ahead with my concepts. Because of that, the whole community latched onto it.”
A consistent group of 30 or so volunteers were also critical to Safety Kids' mission.
“There was massive support from the community, and that was greatly appreciated, because I could not have pulled this off alone. I needed huge backing, and I got it,” she said.
Brown plans to do volunteer work during her retirement.
“I'm going to wait and see what doors the Lord opens up for me, and I plan to walk through and move ahead,” she said. “God-willing, I'll be doing something else that's exciting and interesting. And it will definitely involve kids, because I just love working with children.”
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.