As children leave the safety of their homes and guardians a few hours a day to go to school, they are at an age where learning the ways of safety in the streets is a must.
The Kids’ Safety Village of Durham Region was built to do just that.
The Kids’ Safety Village is located in Whitby, sharing grounds with Sir William Stephenson Public School
and is operated by the Durham Region Police Service.
Activities include how to cross the street and dialing 911, with working traffic lights, yield signs and park benches, but that is not what the Village is limited to. The village also includes battery-powered miniature cars, bicycles, and small buildings, one with a working road barrier.
However, business is currently at a standstill.
At the moment, however, the village is under construction in order to renovate its current main facility, because it “is very outdated and small,” said Corey Walsh, a Durham Regional Police community service officer. “The expansion will have an additional classroom that will be utilized to teach a fire safety program.”
The village has been closed since November and its reopening date is currently unknown.
When in operation, the village is visited by about 15,000 students annually. According to Jim Olson, retired Durham District School Board principal, all students from all over Durham Region are welcome, including as far away as Beaverton, Port Perry and Uxbridge.
The village is, according to Olson, funded by Durham Region, the school board and the police, and the only cost is students have to pay three dollars each for bus fare. Other than that, visits are free.
“Classes currently include bike, road safety, pedestrian safety, Internet and anti –bullying programs as well,” says Walsh, adding it is for kids from Grades 1-6. The village used to teach vandalism laws and legal graffiti but the lesson was removed after Walsh took over.
Commentary from children and adults alike on the teachings and experiences of the village have been positive, according to Walsh. “Kids always enjoy being able to explore the village and get to practice what they have learned in class out in the village. We receive a lot of positive feedback from both parents, teachers and students.”
The village was built in 1995 through donations of $25,000 from local businesses and citizens.