O'Fallon Begins Safety Town Registration
Starting Monday morning, residents may sign their children up to learn safety tips from O'Fallon Police officers.
Registration begins today for an O’Fallon program that has grown popular with children and parents throughout the years. Designed for children ages four and a half to six and a half, Safety Town meshes realistic playtime with real life encounters, O'Fallon Director of Public Relations Tom Drabelle said.
“Children get to know the police officers and gain a comfort level about what they may encounter in real life when they are not with their parents,” he said.
Safety Town is sponsored by the O’Fallon Police Department, the VFW Post 5077 and the Ladies’ Auxiliary. Tuition is $60 per child and $40 for each additional child. South Middle School hosts the classes, which are offered in three different sessions: June 13-24, June 27-July 8, and July 11-22. Parents can choose either the morning class time or the afternoon class time.
Drabelle said this is the first year that parents can register their children onliner in person at the Renaud Spirit Center. Class size is limited and by the end of the first day of registration, Drabelle said there are typically only one or two spots open for each session.
In years past, Drabelle said parents waited in line at the RSC well before 8 a.m. to register their children. This year, by offering online registration, Drabelle said the registration process should be less crazy.
The safety program is unique in the St. Charles area and a lot of work goes into making it a success, Drabelle said.
“It is a labor of love for our police department,” he said. “It was an investment in the city covered by donations and continues to be funded by the police efforts.”
Drabelle said officers enjoy working with Safety Town. Officers typically participate for a number of years before sometimes reluctantly, they pass on their duties to other officers. Other volunteers include high school students and community professionals.
The curriculum has evolved over the years and is adapted to meet the needs of children. Safety Town is a simulated town, scaled down to the children’s size. Children are taught to evaluate situations, determine safe situations from unsafe ones and practice reacting in those situations.
Topics covered include: pedestrian safety, automobile safety, bicycle safety, school bus safety, water and fire safety plus stranger awareness. Additionally, children learn to evaluate situations and with the aid of a special phone system, they learn when, why and how to dial 9-1-1.
The lessons seem to stick with the kids, which is the goal of the program. O'Fallon Patch talked to six-year-old Sydney, who attended the program last year. Sydney said she really liked Safety Town and that all her friends and her little sister should go.
“We were going in the little town to learn how to be safe when we’re not with Mama,” she said.
Sydney had a long list of safety tips she remembered from her last trip through safety town, including, if you are on fire, you need to stop, drop and roll; you should always wear your helmet when you ride a bike and if there is a fire, crawl on the ground underneath the smoke.
She also remembered some not-so-obvious tips, such as remember to tie your shoes before you ride your bicycle so that you do not get tangled in the pedals.
Drabelle said that the program is a successful teaching tool because the kids remember the lessons they learned in such a fun environment.
O’Fallon Officer John Fomera said he learned of a national Safety Town program in 1982. After three years of securing funding and donations, O’Fallon Safety Town opened its program in 1985. The start-up costs were covered by donations. The Police Department funds ongoing costs not covered by tuition through additional donations.
For more information on Safety Town, visit their question and answer page.