If you grew up in the Big Country during the past 30 years, you most likely went on a field trip to Safety City in Abilene.
As a child who grew up in Nolan County, it was one of my favorite field trips. We got to drive miniature cars in a child-sized town with real-looking buildings, streets, signs and traffic lights. We also had the opportunity to practice bicycle and pedestrian safety.
During the past couple of years and in the coming months, you can expect to see some positive changes at Safety City.
One of my most vivid memories of Safety City was when an instructor, who was probably a fireman or policeman, was talking to us about street signs and pounded a stop sign hanging in the room as hard as he could, making us all jump out of our shoes. He said if learning to stop at a stop sign was the only thing we learned that day, then that was okay with him, and slamming the sign was a way to help us to never forget.
Message received and not forgotten almost 30 years later by this girl.
The goals of Safety City, which is operated by the Abilene Police Department, Abilene Fire Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety and officially named the Melvin Martin Center for Children’s Safety, is to teach young people to recognize safety hazards found in every-day life and to learn to make wise choices when they find themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Instructors do this by making it fun and memorable. The curriculum is geared towards third grade students
“Many students today do not receive this type of safety education at home unless they visit Safety City,” staff members state in a letter to potential donors.
The program began in 1981 and has since seen some improvements. In 2009 a fire education center opened up, giving firefighters a place to teach home fire safety. They even fill a room with simulated smoke and have children practice escaping safely.
Now they are in the process of constructing a new police education building to give them some more classroom space. The new building will house a classroom with stadium style seating and interactive learning tools. Handicapped accessible facilities will also be included. It will also provide a place for them to eat lunch indoors when necessary.
Safety City staff has been working hard to raise funds to construct the new building, which will cost approximately $240,000 to build. They are currently $15,000 short in funding. They have asked members of the community, local PTAs/PTOs and others for donations.
One small way people can donate is by eating at Chick-fil-A on South Clack in Abilene for supper on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 6-8 p.m. Proceeds from that night will go to the construction of the police station.