Safety Village Educates Children

Submitted By

Pam Blackwell
Cobb and Douglas Public Health, Georgia
October 2, 2013

In Cobb County, Georgia, Cobb and Douglas Public Health, Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response created the training modules in the Public Health building at the Cobb County Safety Village to provide a dynamic and interactive learning environment for families to learn about public health preparedness and response issues as well as crime prevention, fire safety, pedestrian safety, and more. Small-scale representations of community streets and businesses help interactive learning. Built on an eight acre site, it is the most comprehensive safety training environment in the region where our residents and business communities can gain knowledge through hands on experiences. “It is a place where the walls come alive with knowledge while instructors share the most advanced techniques and ideas for making our community safer,” health officials said.

The project began in 2009 with funding from the CDC, and as the program has expanded, it has also become more streamlined. The Emergency Preparedness and Response project team members had a vision to teach important public health messages to our most impressionable citizens--our children. After researching state-of-the-art technology, the team opted for a system driven by infrared technology powered by a standard Windows operating system. In the Public Health building, children participate in virtual emergency preparedness experiences that can be modified, updated, monitored and maintained online. The training creates a fun, educational experience that delivers a very serious topic to children in a way that would not scare them, but rather prepare them on their level. The overarching philosophy of the Safety Village is, “Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will learn for a lifetime."

Since 2012, over 9,000 students have received a pre and post-test, administered at school before and after their visit to the village, which is helping the health department understand the program’s efficacy. Independent evaluation of the training indicates the program to be highly effective, increasing pretest scores from 50% to over 90% in posttest. Additionally, the trainings are well received by the children, who often will go home and discuss the modules with their parents and siblings.

Five modules were created for the village. Current modules include: Creating an Emergency Kit, Hand Washing, Freddie Flu-shots are good, Ginger Germ and Get Moving. All students participate in the “Get Moving” module. The other modules can change in collaboration with the development company fairly quickly depending on what may be happening in the community. For example, recently, the “Annie Anthrax” module was changed to “Ginger Germ” since the firefighters were having difficulty explaining Anthrax to children.

Over 20,000 2nd and 4th graders from the Cobb County school system attend the training annually. Marietta school system students are also now visiting the Safety Village along with private schools. In addition, there are camp groups and day care facilities that go through the village during the summer. Finally, there is a Fall Festival every year that draws 3000-5000 people. Cobb County Fire and Emergency services and Cobb County Police officers work full time at the Safety Village and provide training to the children.

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