Located in Pasco County, Safety Town is a “realistic, child-sized town designed to provide a complete hands-on safety education for children. The town has paved streets, working traffic signals, miniature buildings, and even a railroad crossing, all designed to be as authentic as possible to provide the most exciting, most effective safety training for children available anywhere.”
The Safety Town Program focuses on children in kindergarten through second grade, ages 5-8. Public and private schools and various children’s groups visit Safety Town throughout the year for scheduled field trips during the week. The children are taught by volunteers who have been trained by education and safety professionals.
Safety Town topics include:
• Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Seat Belt Safety
• Water and Boat Safety
• The right way to call 9-1-1
• Safety Around Animals and “Stranger Danger”
• Severe Weather Safety
• Internet and General Household Safety
• Drug Safety.
Hernando County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Spooner serves as a “group leader” and attends each field trip with Hernando County schoolchildren. Deputy Spooner meets the children at their school and rides the bus to and from Safety Town with them.
On the trip to the facility, Deputy Spooner prepares the children for what they are about to learn. While at Safety Town, Deputy Spooner accompanies a small group of children throughout the facility, delivering curriculum for each of the safety stations. On the way back to school, the children are quizzed about what they learned through their interactive experience at Safety Town. Deputy Spooner is also available to answer any questions the children may have, all in an effort to teach safety and to strengthen the relationship between our smallest citizens and law enforcement.
Field trips are offered throughout the school year. Currently, children from Hernando County schools have taken part in six field trips – training approximately 240 children total (approximately 40 children per trip that are divided into small groups).
Sheriff Al Nienhuis is pleased to offer this program to children in Hernando County, as he is committed to the safety of all citizens, especially that of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. He feels helping these students become more comfortable with law enforcement will help ensure open communication as they age. Sheriff Nienhuis believes that if only one life is saved by the child having been trained in safety procedures, it is well worth the time and effort.
“Training our young children to be safe in the home, in their yard, and in the community is a great investment. Unfortunately, there is no way for us to know how many accidents and injuries this program has prevented. Since this is realistic, hands on learning, specifically designed for children, I am sure that there are many children who have avoided injury or death as a direct result of their visit to Safety Town,” said Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
“With Sheriff Al Nienhuis’ increased partnership at Safety Town we have been able to make an impact on hundreds of Hernando County Students in kindergarten through second grade, by providing them valuable knowledge through our safety education program. The goal of Safety Town is to reduce accidental injuries and deaths of children by educating them within our realistic, child-sized town designed to provide a complete hands-on experience. The stark reality is Florida leads the nation with more than twice the national average of child drowning deaths and seventy percent of all fires resulting in the death of a child are started by children. We are very appreciative of Sheriff Nienhuis’ vision, in which, he has made it a priority for the Hernando Sheriff’s Office to partner with and support Safety Town and our mission to keep children safe and healthy,” said Captain James Mallo, President of Pasco Safety Town.