group shot at camp

Sometimes children have a difficult time figuring out where to turn for help in unsafe situations. To teach children what they should do if an emergency arises, the Bell County Cooperative Extension Service offered a Safe Communities Day Camp last fall.

“Community members reached out to us to see how we could help,” said Rebecca Miller, Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Bell County. “There are so many situations where children just aren’t sure what to do. With grandparents raising grandchildren and drugs affecting many families, children need to know who they can count on in a crisis.”

Miller’s goal was to familiarize campers with local aid workers. Miller worked with the Bell County Sheriff’s office, Bell County Volunteer Fire Department, Bell County Emergency Management Service, Air Evac Lifeteam, and the Division of Forestry to make camp a reality.

“We had 18 children and their families participate,” Miller said. “Over two days, they met our community helpers and learned about the services they provide.”

Families met firefighters, paramedics, police officers, flight nurses, and forester rangers who provided information on ways to keep families and communities safe.
“Through a variety of activities, we made sure the campers knew that the community helpers are their friends,” she said. “We also made sure to emphasize that dialing 9-1-1 is for emergencies only.”

A verbal survey after the program revealed that 90 percent of children could identify local community helpers and 90 percent of families indicated that their children have a positive impression of community helpers and are not afraid them. The survey also showed that 80 percent of the children recognized the numbers 9-1-1 and could dial the number for emergencies.

—Aimee Nielson