Kids learn safety, health at Riverdale library

By Curt Yeomans


Hundreds of local children converged on the Riverdale branch of the Clayton County Library System on Thursday, to learn a thing or two about safety, and being healthy.

The library branch held its annual Summer Safety Day. Youngsters were taught the importance of "Stop, Drop, and Roll," how to deal with bullying, and why it is important to consume healthy foods and drinks, and to exercise regularly.

Ramona Clark, the library's youth services librarian, said the five-hour event attracted 300 children. The Riverdale branch has held Summer Safety Day for at least a decade, according to Clark. "We use the safety theme because it fits in with summer," she said. "There are so many things that can go wrong, if safety rules are not followed, including swimming, traffic, and fire safety, with children sometimes being home alone during the summer."

There were several activities throughout the event, such as children getting whiskers painted on their faces, and temporary firefighter tattoos on their arms.

Throughout the day, groups of youths also took half-hour tours of Georgia State University's Bio Bus, where Georgia State Teaching Fellow John Lassiter, explained chemical reactions (by mixing dry ice and colored water). He also explained the different types of animals that exist in the world, such as octopuses, spiders, fetal pigs and sponges.

Lassiter said the university has been sending its fleet of Bio Buses out to local schools and libraries across the Atlanta area since 1998. He said at least 150,000 children, from approximately 14 local counties, have been on a Bio Bus since they started rolling.

Riverdale's Isaiah Hillard, 11, said he particularly liked going onto the Bio Bus, to learn about animal diversity. "I thought about being a biologist someday, so getting to see all of the different types of animals was interesting to me," he said.

During another part of the event, about 30 children participated in an exercise session with representatives of the Morrow-based Literacy for Youth Foundation's "Kidz Fit Club." During the session, the youths played a game of "Red Light/Green Light," twirled hoola hoops, did jumping jacks and push-ups, and played with jump ropes.

Earlier in the day, Beadie Davison, the public health educator for the Clayton County Board of Health, talked about the importance of children eating nutritious meals. Other programs included a mobile dairy classroom, a presentation on bullying from representatives of the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center, and educational theater programs, put on by Kaiser Permanente.

Estyna Allen, 7, of Riverdale, said she liked the exercise activities with the "Kidz Fit club" representatives more than anything else. "I liked when we jumped rope, and when we played 'Red Light/Green Light' because it is my favorite game," she said.

Another Riverdale youngster, Brianna Hillard, 7, said she got the safety message loud and clear. "It made me think about safety control, by learning things like, if there's a fire in your home, don't run back inside to grab your toys," she said.