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Safety first for hundreds of children in the Zone

What to do if there's a fire in your home, the best ways to help someone struggling in water - and even how to avoid scaring a dog. Those are just some of the lessons learned by hundreds of primary schoolchildren at a series of "Safety Zone" events held across Fenland over the past year.

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Other topics include staying safe in cars, coping with bullying and how to go about reporting antisocial behaviour.

This week [February 28] the project got the thumbs-up from Cambridgeshire's Police and Crime Commissioner after he joined pupils from the Lionel Walden school in Doddington at one of the latest sessions staged at March fire station.

The Safety Zone is a Fenland Community Safety Partnership (FCSP) project, organised by Fenland District Council with help from Cambridgeshire's police and fire services, the county council and Wood Green Animal Rescue. 

It has proved a highly effective way of getting across a range of key safety messages to children. Nearly 850 Year 5 students from 25 schools have taken part in the sessions since last April.

Councillor David Oliver, FDC's Cabinet member responsible for community safety and the FCSP's chairman, said: "It's a real partnership effort and one of the reasons it works so well is that the children have a lot of fun with all the activities. That helps the messages sink in and, importantly, means they also pass them on to their parents when they go home.

"At first they think it's all a game and suddenly they realise these are serious lessons about keeping themselves and others safe - you can see the lightbulb come on."

Teacher Jackie McBeath, who led the Lionel Walden school pupils' visit, described it as "extremely useful". She said: "The children and I thoroughly enjoyed the informative and interactive sessions. All the activities were well led and the leaders were very entertaining and engaging. In the words of one of my pupils, 'I felt a lot safer afterwards'."

Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said: "It was great to see collaborative work first hand delivering results for our community - Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Fenland Community Safety Partnership, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue and Wood Green Animal Shelter all coming together to provide advice about keeping our children safe."

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Article added March 2, 2017