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Boys & Girls Clubs learn about public safety
Gainesville Community Police Officers Glen Reed and Pam Mitchell hand out free information about staying safe Friday at the Public Safety Awareness Day at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Hailey Glasper, 5, doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.

"Especially not my big cousin," she said, embracing her cousin, Jalen Turner, 8.

The two girls, both Gainesville residents, were attending Public Safety Awareness Day sponsored by The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County on Friday afternoon at the club’s location on Positive Place in Gainesville.

Glasper and Turner said they learned many safety tips at Friday’s event.

"I think that safety is important so that people don’t get hurt," Turner said. "And if someone does get hurt, people will know what they’re doing so they can help them."

Different booths were set up for the kids to see. They included the Gainesville Police Department, Gainesville Fire Department, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and others.

"Safety is good," Turner said. "You can tell someone who is younger about safety and then they will know what they are doing when they’re older, and they will try and help people."

The girls both agreed that their favorite part of the Public Safety Awareness Day was "the fire truck!"

"The fire truck is a lot more cooler than the other ones!" Glasper said, talking about the different booths.

People were smiling and laughing Friday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, and the vibe of the event was both positive and uplifting. Some 350 kids were expected to participate, and everyone was ready to learn and have a good time.

Royce Woodruff, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. event coordinator, was also excited about the different activities.

"We’re trying to build a relationship between the kids and the emergency personnel," he said. "It will be too late for kids to meet these people once they’re on the street, because that’s after the fact. So we’re trying to be proactive and build relationships."

Woodruff spoke proudly about what the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County is hoping to do.

"If we can save one child, we have met our goal," he said. "That child might be someone else’s child, but that’s one life saved and that speaks volumes."

Ariel Woodruff, 5, Royce Woodruff’s daughter, was excited to see the fire truck and police cars.

Derrick Mason, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County unit director, described the day’s events as "basically safety."

"It’s teaching children and parents how to maintain a safe environment, which in essence, helps everyone out," Mason said.

Mason also wants children to be more aware of what to do when they are left at home alone.

"In today’s society, a lot of young children are unfortunately left at home alone because of negligence from parents," he said. "We can’t be there to say ‘Parent, don’t do this,’ but what we can do to counter this is to make sure that kids know how to handle the situation if they are home alone."

Another safety issue that kids need to be aware of is knowing how to call 911.

"A lot of kids don’t take it seriously, but they need to make sure that they know how to do this," Mason said. "They can’t assume that they can just pick up the phone and dial 911. Nowadays, you may get a recording."

Public Safety Awareness Day also was a time for kids to learn that police officers aren’t always big and scary, organizers said.

"In most cases, the children that we deal with unfortunately see the police when they are responding to something in their neighborhood," Mason said. "We wanted the kids to actually be able to go out in a neutral environment and see that these guys are our friends. We don’t have to be afraid to speak with them."

The kids were the most important part of the Public Safety Awareness Day, and everyone was doing their best to make sure that they were learning and having fun.

Kesha McRae, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Hall County Alumni Chapter, knows that children need to start learning about safety when they’re young.

"It’s always good to start early," she said. "That’s when they learn the most."

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