VANDALIA — What can you say about a program that has given Vandalia-Butler school children the tools they need to better adjust to a school situation, while also equipping them with critical safety information? In Vandalia, that program is called Passport to Safety, and this year marks an impressive 30 year milestone.
Passport to Safety is a week-long program for incoming kindergarten children at each of three elementary schools in the Vandalia-Butler School District, including St. Christopher Catholic School. The program was held at St. Christopher the week of August 10 and will be held in the Vandalia-Butler Schools on August 20, 21, and 24.
A combined graduation for Demmitt and Helke Elementary Schools will be held at the First Baptist Church Hangar, 140 Elva Court, with a reception to follow.
Passport to Safety began in 1985 as an idea between Marie McGee, a kindergarten teacher, and Lt. Jack Baber, Vandalia Division of Police. In 1986, the Vandalia Division of Fire was included to teach fire safety. Over the years, the addition of Butler Township police and fire, Vandalia-Butler school bus drivers, Vandalia Parks & Recreation lifeguards (water safety around pools), a veterinarian (pet safety), and school nurses were added to the program. The program continues to evolve each year based on parent evaluations.
In 1986, Passport to Safety was named the Best Safety Program for Youth, the highest honor of the State of Ohio’s Crime Prevention Associations.
Since 1985, it is estimated that approximately over 5,000 children have taken part in this program. All of the participants involved in presenting the program are very dedicated to their safety topic and to the children. It does take a community to raise a child.
The kids who participate each year actually do remember the safety information they are taught, and they often are calm enough to put the information to use in a crisis. There have been numerous “saves” linked back to the information presented in this program. Just last year, two young men who had gone through the program a couple of years earlier, were able to alert authorities to medical emergencies that could have ended much worse without their intervention.
This year is the 30th anniversary of Passport to Safety. Current students, teachers, Vandalia Police and Fire Department, Butler Township Police and Fire Department and past instructors will be present. The graduation is open to all.
R.S.V.P. to Officer Doug Nagel, 937-415-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you will be attending the ceremony.
Reach Vandalia Crime Prevention Officer Doug Nagel at 937-415-2272 or email@example.com.