With about $11,000 in seed money, the Rotary Club of Kent is poised to put its plans for a local Safety Town into action.
Dave Myers, president of the Rotary Club of Kent, said the Safety Town will be located on a currently vacant lot just south of Holden School on Franklin Avenue.
Safety Town uses hands-on activities — often taught in a small-scale city with streets, homes and sidewalks — to teach children aged 5 to 7 a slew of safety skills.
Kent’s Safety Town may include a number of features unique to the tree city — chief among them the Kent Depot building, the old church that houses Bell Tower Brewing Co., and Kent’s old courthouse, currently a law office, Myers said.
Kent Junior Mothers, a service organization dedicated to helping local kids since 1945, offers a safety school every summer. Instead of wondering where their next location will be, President Emily Wilson is looking forward to having a permanent home base.
“Having that just there will be wonderful for us,” she said. “It will be actual buildings, actual stop signs instead of just us. It will be better for everybody. The kids will get more out of it because there will be more there, and it will be fun for us, too, because we won’t be setting up and tearing down every day.”
Safety Town topics may include train and electrical safety, poison education, healthy eating, bus safety, walking, and pool and water safety. Kent firefighters and police would make an appearance, as would representatives from the county sheriff’s office.
Helping Kent Junior Mothers’ 15-20 members, all of whom are moms of toddlers up to teenagers, are 12-15 middle and high school students who lend willing hands with the children, including setup, cleanup, and anything else that needs done.
“It’s a collaborative effort between a lot of people in Kent,” Wilson said.
Kent Junior Mothers’ successful fundraising means its safety school sessions are free, and each participant gets a free bike helmet.
Once Safety Town is in place, Kent Junior Mothers is hoping to offer additional programs, such as safety nights, she said.
To help support Safety Town, local business owners may sponsor a building: Myers estimates costs from $2,500 to $4,000, depending on the building size. Anyone interested can contact the Rotary Club of Kent.
Already considering involvement are Kent State, Kent’s Hall-Green Insurance Agency and Brimfield Insurance.
“I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to,” Hall-Green President Mike Finley said. “That’s right down our lane.”
Metis Construction Services, a Kent business, has donated its services throughout the project. The firm is set to present Kent’s school board with initial renderings and a site plan at the Board of Education’s June 20 meeting.
If all goes according to plan, Safety Town construction is expected to start the first half of 2024 and to be completed during the fall months, Myers said.
Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.