600 4-H’ers learn safety lessons

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Pace, Katherine B., Martin, Karen M., Aclin, Connie Q.  |  4/29/2009 6:12:13 PM

News Release Distributed 04/29/09

SHREVEPORT, La. – About 600 4-H’ers from 18 elementary schools learned how to stay safe at the 2009 Caddo 4-H Extravaganza April 24 at the Bill Cockrell Community Center.

The LSU AgCenter joined with Think First of the Ark-La-Tex to put on the Safe Kids Day. The Red Cross of Northwest Louisiana, Shreveport Police Department and Shreveport Fire Department provided hands-on educational activities for the youngsters.

Activities included topics related to food, bicycles, the Internet, ATV and automobile safety, developing a fire escape plan, search and rescue dogs and gun and gang violence/bullying, said Katherine Pace, an LSU AgCenter agent.

Marlin Sweet, a Think First voice for injury prevention, told the kids that when he was in a gang 18 years ago, he was shot in the back.

“It happened because I made some bad choices,” Sweet said.

“If you’re going to be rebellious in school, you’re going to be rebellious on the street,” he said. “Think before your initial reaction. Don’t let what’s going on around you cost you your life.

“You can’t get lost in the forest if you don’t go to the forest,” Sweet said. “I went in the forest and got lost, knowing I shouldn’t be in it. If I stay away from what I need the pistol for, I don’t need the pistol.”

Sweet told the 4-H’ers robbers aren’t going to fall out of their ceiling and shoot them while they are doing homework.

“It’s not by chance you become what you are,” Sweet said. “Whatever you prepare yourself to be, you can do that. You can’t choose to be bad when you try to be good. I’m not who I want to be, but I ain’t who I used to be.”

After Sweet spoke, Donna Cavanaugh, Think First executive director, gave examples of positive ways to use your hands – hugging, shaking hands, high fives, praying, giving, cleaning, cooking, blowing a kiss, patting someone on the back and performing CPR.

Connie Aclin, an LSU AgCenter agent, demonstrated how quickly germs multiply, using gum balls as examples. She encouraged the youngsters to use towelettes or liquid hand sanitizer before eating. Youths put their hands under a special light to see germs.

Another lesson, put on by the LSU AgCenter’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, involved trying to distinguish whether eight white powders were edible or not and the importance of labels. They included cleanser, detergent, flour, sugar, creamer, powdered sugar, salt and baking soda.

Kerry Foster with the K-9 Search and Rescue Unit had two fire department rescue dogs, including Ranger with 50 recoveries of lost people. The dog spent four months in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and searched 2,800 homes.

Foster told the 4-H’ers that if they were lost in the woods, they should hug a tree.

“We get scared as we wander around,” he said. Carry a whistle to make noise others might hear and a garbage bag to protect yourself from rain, he added.

The Shreveport Police Department taught bike safety.

Even people you know can steal your bikes, Cpl. M.L. Deal said. It is important to have serial numbers written down, she said.

Cpl. Van Wray demonstrated hand signals and stressed always wearing a helmet and light-colored clothing at night. Cpl. Jimmie Thomas encouraged keeping bikes in working order by monitoring tire pressure, brakes and chains.

Karen Martin, Northwest Louisiana 4-H regional coordinator, instructed the 4-H’ers not to give out their names, parents’ names or phone numbers while on the Internet.

A 4-H Song and Yell contest culminated the event.


Mary Ann Van Osdell 

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