Program to help youngsters become safer

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An upcoming educational program will soon give local youngsters the chance to become safer, healthier and more productive citizens.

The 13th Annual Kids Day America/International, a health, safety and environmental awareness day designed to benefit children and their families, will take place in thousands of cities worldwide at the same time on the same day. The event is returning to Fort Scott for the second consecutive year, and is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 17, at Buck Run Community Center, 735 Scott Ave.

The international event is sponsored by chiropractors worldwide with the purpose of educating parents and their children about health, fitness and safety issues, as well as providing parents with tips on raising children in a stress-filled society, according to Robert O'Dell, a local chiropractor who is sponsoring the Fort Scott event.

"I thought by bringing this to Fort Scott it would help to educate the parents and at the same time let the children come to the event and have a fun time," O'Dell said.

The event, which is open to all community members, will provide attendees with essential information about crime prevention, Internet safety and child safety, and environmental awareness. Local law enforcement officials will distribute free identification kits to all children who attend the event, and will also demonstrate fingerprinting procedures to young attendees.

There will also be a special appearance by Sparky the Fire Dog. Representatives of the Fort Scott Fire Department will also be present to teach fire prevention and fire safety tips to children in attendance. O'Dell will be on hand to provide free health and spinal screenings, and to distribute vital information concerning disease prevention and health promotion.

Attendees will also be able to learn information about other available programs, such as car seat safety, bicycle safety, and drug awareness. A number of other fun activities are also planned, O'Dell said.

"We will also provide free balloons, food and fun for everyone," he said. "There will be special giveaways and free prize drawings every half hour."

O'Dell said the event will also serve as a fundraiser for the Bourbon County Court Appointed Special Advocates, a local agency that helps abused or neglected children during juvenile court proceedings.

O'Dell said several organizations and community service groups participated in last year's successful event.

"Children of all ages along with their parents attended the program," he said. "Every child and their parents are exposed to health, safety and environmental awareness in a fun and exciting format where children and parents participated at the different stations of the event."

The free event is represented nationally by celebrity spokesperson and young actor Jonathan Lipnicki, who co-starred in such films as "Jerry Maguire" with Tom Cruise, and the "Stuart Little" films, according to Theresa and Stuart Warner, the founders of the national event.

The event has also earned support from national and world leaders, as well as local and state government officials.