Kids learn life-saving lessons at UHC children’s safety fair
10/09/2013 - The Exponent Telegram. By Roger Adkins.
An FBI bomb-sniffing dog was, paws down, the favorite attraction at a children’s safety fair Tuesday organized by the pediatrics unit at United Hospital Center.
Darby and her handler, FBI Officer Steve Gould, taught the children about animal safety. They also demonstrated Darby’s ability to sniff out contraband by having her find a hidden item in one of several tin cans. The kids crowded around to pet her soft, furry coat as often as they could.
Darby was one of many learning opportunities offered at the event. The children learned about everything from germ awareness and dental hygiene to recognizing different kinds of medicines and understanding the safety rules regarding them.
Patti Cook, a registered nurse, organized the fair with her coworkers in the pediatrics unit. She said the safety fair is a great opportunity to offer a free service to children.
“This is our eighth year. This is UHC’s opportunity to get involved with the community and promote health, wellness and safety,” Cook said.
Cook said the fair averages about 60 children each year. She hopes the children have an opportunity to learn and have fun.
“We hope it also promotes a discussion between children and their parents about safety. We provide take-home information, lots of booklets, as well as fun things for the kids,” Cook said.
“It’s also fun for the adults who come to learn from all the demonstrations,” Cook said. “This shows that we not only provide health care on a daily basis, but that we also provide preventative care and information.”
Crystal Towns, owner of the Imagination Station Day Care Center in Clarksburg, brought eight children and four parents to the event. Towns said she’s been bringing students to the safety fair for at least five years.
“It’s an educational field trip, plus it’s free to the community,” Towns said.
Kathleen Mazza was one of the parent volunteers who attended. Her 4-year-old daughter, Isabella Mazza, attends Imagination Station Day Care.
Kathleen Mazza felt the fair was informational and helped to reinforce what children learn at home.
“They touched on a lot of safety issues that are just important in today’s society,” Mazza said.
The value of the information cannot be understated, Towns said.
“I think it’s all very important. They touch on issues that are especially important with Halloween coming up,” Towns said.
Debbie Nutter is another registered nurse in the pediatrics unit. Her focus at the safety fair was “stranger danger.”
“I’m here to let children know about strangers who might be bad and what to do if they encounter someone who might want to harm them,” Nutter said.
Nutter has worked with children for 38 years. Interacting with them is one of the joys of her job.
“I think the kids really love it. They do pick up on all of the aspects of what we have to show them. I enjoy it,” Nutter said.
Rhonda Vincent is the pre-kindergarten school nurse for Harrison County. She said the safety fair is a valuable tool for her. Vincent’s focus at the fair was on teaching kids how not to spread germs.
“In pre-K, everything is about sharing. But germs are one of the things we don’t want to share,” Vincent said. “This is a great community service.”