Safety Day draws hundreds

MINERAL WELLS – More than 300 third- and fourth-graders from several Wood County schools are spending a day learning about safety in a variety of areas, from ATVs and farm machinery to fire and electrical safety.

This year’s program also included a program about healthy lifestyles and nutrition.

The Wood County Farm Bureau Safety Day Program is in its 13th year, said coordinator Janet Wigal with the farm bureau.

“Every year, we try to improve and bring on different instructors who are going to help the children with safety. Our goal is to send our children away from the Safety Day program with knowledge of how to take care of themselves,” Wigal said.

Safety Days is sponsored by the Progressive Agriculture Foundation and receives support from the Wood County Commission, Farm Credit and the Little Kanawha Conservation District.

Throughout the day, students visit eight safety stations. This year’s stations include: healthy lifestyles, electrical safety, fire safety, school safety, ATV safety, farm machinery safety, sun safety and disability awareness.

Fourth-grade students from Mineral Wells and Emerson schools attended Tuesday’s program, while fourth-graders from Fairplains and Franklin and third-graders from Lubeck are going through the program today.

In a new addition to this year’s program, Wigal said the farm bureau received approval to do the Healthy Lifestyles program, which featured instruction about healthy food choices, nutrition and related matters. The instruction was provided by Charlene Villers, youth nutrition outreach instructor with the WVU Extension Service in Wood County.

Wigal said the Mineral Wells program was one of five chosen throughout the country as a test site this year. West Virginia was one of nine states identified as having an obesity problem with school-aged children. The program is seeking to educate children about healthy eating habits and provide information about healthy lifestyle lessons.

As a test site, Wigal said officials will collect information about what students learned through a pre-test, on the day of the program and through a post-test about a week after the program. The goal is to see what students knew before the program, what they learned and what they retained regarding healthy lifestyles and eating, she said.

The information will be turned over to Progressive Agriculture which will provide it to the University of Alabama for study and review, so improvements in the program can be made in the future, Wigal said.

Darcella Maul, a fourth-grade teacher at Mineral Wells Elementary School, has been bringing students to the Safety Day program since its creation and believes it’s one of the best programs her students do each year.

“Seriously, if we had to give up every field trip we have, we would give them all up except for this. Our children learn everyday life skills here,” Maul said.

Over the years she has been attending Safety Day with her students, Maul has seen it change and grow to cover a variety of subjects, from basic fire safety to sun safety to healthy lifestyle information.

“Every school should have it, it’s just a wonderful program,” she said.