Parks care about providing relevant programming that helps all members of their community be happy, healthy, and safe. But some groups are easier to serve than others.
“It is very difficult to find tween programs that are appropriate or desirable,” said Kristy White, director of education for Westfield Washington Township Parks and Recreation in Westfield, Indiana. That’s why Westfield, like so many other parks nationwide, choose to offer Safe Sitter®. Since becoming a Registered Safe Sitter® Provider in 2007, Westfield has taught over 700 young teens to be safer when home alone, sibling sitting, or babysitting.
“We had been looking for relevant teen programming for the community. Safe Sitter® was exactly what we needed to fill the niche,” Kristy said. Safe Sitter® supplies a curriculum that’s designed for the developmental and intellectual needs of young teens. Plus, it appeals to their sensibilities – a must if any park hopes to experience success in teaching it.
“Safe Sitter® is popular among 6-8th graders, boys and girls,” said Kristy. “They want to come and participate, and it is a great way to get the safety skills they need.” Kristy finds that students are especially excited to learn choking rescue and are actively engaged in that portion of the curriculum. It’s popular with Instructors too!
“It is hard to pick just one part of Safe Sitter® that I like. All the safety and life skills learned are essential not only for babysitting but in everyday lives, “Kristy said. “If I had to choose, choking rescue would be one of my favorite parts.”
Teaching teens such essential life-saving skills is so important, and most parks find that it fits in their budgets to offer Safe Sitter®. It helps that the program requires a minimal investment to get started.
“We were lucky we had a small programming budget that covered the cost of my training and one other Instructor,” said Kristy. “We are able to cover the cost of supplies from the fees that we charge the students.” The park holds its classes at its own programming facility, but it also partners with a local middle school to offer classes in their buildings after school.
Once a park or other community organization commits to offering Safe Sitter®, it can be sure that it will always be providing a high-quality, regularly-updated curriculum.
“Safe Sitter® never gets old. In the 10 years I have been teaching I have had three different handbooks,” Kristy said. “Safe Sitter® is constantly updating the materials to keep it relevant. The current book even covers things such as online safety.”
As Kristy points out, people turn to their local parks departments to provide vital public services for their communities. That’s precisely why she so highly recommends that parks offer Safe Sitter®. “The life skills learned in this class are essential for every student,” Kristy said.