Fire and Life Safety Conference

By: Danielle Banks
By: Danielle Banks

Shawn Kelley came here to speak about Sept. 11, but he also came to teach our public officials how to work with kids in the event of another crisis.

Kelley says, " What I'm hoping to do is to share with them, lessons that we've learned that are reinforced by the event and hope that people will walk away with some idea that they can implement in this area that doesn't cost anything, but will be effective."

Kelley stressed the importance on continuing to monitor how the event affected local children. In the Arlington area, he helped implement a program with counselors that went to area schools to talk about disasters.

Kelley says, "A project like this would help the kids to allow their folks to go to work when they see a storm, not to be scared that if there were something detrimental or disastrous again. It just em' the tools to cope."

The Valley uses a similar program to teach kids about fire safety. The conference taught the public safety educators how to be more effective in the classroom.

Conference instructor J. D. Jenkins says, "We teach our instructors that when you get that angle with the where you're standing up and they're sitting it doesn't work. We need to be on their level not only physically, but mentally. They need to be thinking, “What does a four-year-old think?"

Interacting with each other is helpful for the educators, but it also helps them figure out ways to keep fire and disaster safety programs low cost and constantly in the schools.

Kelley says, "Kids are very resilient and very tough, but they're also good barometers as to what's going on around them and how they feel."

Kelley also stressed the importance of keeping normalcy in children's lives. Eighty people attended the conference. Each person that was asked said they couldn't wait to start using what they learned in classrooms throughout the Valley.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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