Fourth graders at Moulton Middle School in Shelbyville recently participated in Operation Safe Kids. The program was brought to the school by University of Illinois Extension Unit 19, which serves Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie, and Shelby counties, as well as volunteers from the community. Operation Safe Kids gives students the chance to develop skills necessary to care for themselves when they are home alone. Each week, for 6 weeks, a volunteer went into the fourth grade classrooms and held lessons on a variety of topics related to safety.
Crissy Rueff, from the Shelbyville Police Station, taught personal safety. Rueff emphasized the importance of knowing who is a stranger and how to react if approached by one. Jessica Killough, from Unit 19, taught building confidence and the importance confidence has on safety. David Budde, Director of Emergency Services at Lake Land College, presented a lesson on emergencies and first aid. Budde’s lesson included who to call in emergencies and when to call emergency numbers. Mary Beth Massey, SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator in Shelby County, gave a lesson on kitchen safety and nutritious snacks. Yolanda Nation, 4-H Program Coordinator for Shelby County, taught a lesson on the importance of getting along with others. Nation taught the students’ ways to positively resolve conflicts. Dana Homann, Youth Educator for Unit 19, presented coping with fear, loneliness, and boredom. Homann’s lesson taught the students constructive ways to prevent loneness and boredom when home alone, including being safe on the internet.
The students responded well to the lessons, and many reported learning from the program. Students noted they learned to not answer the door when home alone, how to use a knife without cutting themselves, and many reported they learned how to safely use the internet.