By Joseph Pratt
March 6, 2014
The Officer Phil Program is currently underway and touring local schools to teach elementary students safety lessons in fun, energetic ways. Officer Phil is also accompanied by his puppet friends, including student favorite, Lucky Duck.
Officer Phil and friends strive to show students that police officers are trusted figures that kids can reach out to, while teaching lessons with fun activities, music and magic.
Each year, the theme changes to teach new lessons. This year’s theme is centered on safety in the home and community, and teaches kids that if something or someone makes them feel uncomfortable or nervous, then they need to approach someone that can help, preferably an officer. They also cover bike safety, internet safety and many other aspects that the company members feel the students should know.
“There are several reasons that programming like this is important,” Gayle Haresign, sales manager of the Officer Phil Program, said. “One is that the children are getting to know the police officers in a friendly light. A lot of the time, kids are afraid of officers or they only see them when they are giving someone a ticket. This shows them that the officers are approachable, because the officers are usually in attendance at the programs. The second thing is to reiterate the basic safety lessons that they usually get at home.”
The Officer Phil Program has already visited East Portsmouth, Sciotoville Academy and Notre Dame Elementary. Officer Phil will visit Portsmouth Elementary in May.
Fourth grade Notre Dame Elementary student Lindsey Blau has been learning from Officer Phil for four years and enjoys his visits.
“I think it is great that he is teaching us safety and he is a nice guy,” said Blau. “The assemblies are fun and he teaches us in a fun way. He keeps us safe and I think that is really great.”
Blau said that Officer Phil spoke a lot about online safety during his recent visit and taught the kids what to do in certain online situations where the students could be harmed.
“If someone asks us where we live, we exit out that website and go tell our parents immediately,” Blau explained, when asked what she remembers Officer Phil teaching her about online safety.
The Officer Phil Program is arranged by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania company Creative Safety Products, where they also feature a program for Firefighter Phil, built around the same principals. More information can be found at their website www.officerphil.com
Joseph Pratt can be contacted at Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287 or by Twitter @JosephPratt.