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Published June 18, 2013, 11:30 PM

Her Voice: Fargo woman makes safety fun

FARGO – Every summer Barb Nelson of Fargo teaches groups of 5-year-olds the importance of water safety, buckling their seatbelts and even gun safety.

By: Tracy Frank, INFORUM

Her Voice is a weekly article about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at tfrank@forumcomm.com.

FARGO – Every summer Barb Nelson of Fargo teaches groups of 5-year-olds the importance of water safety, buckling their seatbelts and even gun safety.

Nelson has taught at Safety Town, a 20-hour course sponsored by the Fargo Optimist Club that teaches children safety procedures through involvement in both classroom and outdoor instruction, for at least 11 years.

Over two weeks, the course covers a different safety topic each day, including crossing the street, playing on the playground, traffic signs, where to sit in the car, poison dangers, school bus safety, train safety, fire safety and bicycle safety.

“We cover a lot in two weeks,” Nelson said.

Nine months out of the year Nelson works as an administrative assistant at Centennial Elementary School. She spends June teaching Safety Town classes.

“It’s fun to see the kids in a different setting.” Nelson said. “It’s a nice summertime job.”

The program, which costs $50, is for children entering kindergarten and draws kids from Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth and Casselton, N.D., she said.

The classes usually involve an age-appropriate video and an art project. Sometimes a guest speaker – like a police officer, fire fighter or Burlington Northern Santa Fe official – will talk to the kids. They also go through a course, where they ride bikes with training wheels to learn bicycle safety, Nelson said.

Nelson, who has three grown daughters, said the safety classes are exhausting and challenging work, but also a lot of fun.

“I have had very few children who have not loved the program,” she said. “We keep them entertained.”

In addition to teaching important safety lessons, the program is also a good way to help prepare kids for kindergarten, Nelson said.

“There’s the social benefit. They’re with a whole group of kids. There’s the safety benefit. They just soak it up,” she said. “They’re only with us two weeks, two hours a day, but they catch on to what is going to be expected of them in kindergarten, like going through the hallways quietly or knowing how to write their name. That’s all mixed in with what we do.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

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