Kids from throughout the south Okanagan will continue to play safe and stay safe thanks to a recently-announced provincial government gaming grant.
The $20,000 in funding will enable the Penticton Safety Village to continue its mission of providing kids from kindergarten to Grade 3 with some very valuable tools..
“We are very happy to have gotten the grant this year to continue the bike, pedestrian, 911 and fire safety programs,” said manager Lori Woods who runs the Edmonton Avenue centre.
“This funding is super, super important to us. If we did not get this grant, the safety village would not be operating.”
The money was awarded under the public safety category of the community gaming grant program for non-profit organizations.
Started in 1983 as a one-stop facility, 1,200 kids visit the village, where they learn to protect themselves and others, and experience how to do that first hand.
“We teach fire safety and the importance of how to get out of a burning house,” said Woods.
“We go to the reporting, the 911, should they see something we use real scripts, real situations and a real phone so they know exactly what to expect should they ever have to call 911.
“We teach them what an emergency is.”
Taught by the staff of the Penticton Fire Department, children learn how to exit the on-site, fire safety house, and what to do in case of a fire.
“Also, when it comes to bike safety we do it in stages so we’re teaching them right from learning the rules of the road to the expanded Grade 3 program which includes an obstacle course,” said Woods.
“The ABCs of bike maintenance is something else we show them.”
That is important, especially now with the increased emphasis on cycling in the community.
“We’re (safety village) valuable in making sure that kids get the right start so that they can co-exist with the cars and use the proper techniques to keep them safe,” she added.
The manager pointed out that without the village there would not be any other place kids would be able to get the skills training and knowledge.
In fact, the facility has been so successful over the years it has become a model for other cities wanting to set up safety villages of their own.
The centre is in operation between spring and early fall and each year, usually in June, hosts a large family event which attracts between 300 and 500 visitors.
In making the announcement about the grant, Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said, “Riding your bicycle is one the joys of being a kid.
“Learning how to cycle safely, as well as developing an overall road sense and a respect for police are just a few of the great things the Penticton Safety Village teaches our children.”