Officer Phil Program to Teach Elementary Students about Safety, Bullying and Respect

DUBOIS – The Officer Phil Program will be presented to Sandy Township elementary schools on Oct. 28-31. With the Sandy Township police’s participation, the program will emphasize topics, such as Internet safety, stranger awareness, respect and bullying.

The Officer Phil Program is adapted for elementary students, and the lessons will be taught in a “fun, entertaining way.” One of Officer Phil’s Pals, Turbo the Turtle, will be there to help teach the lessons,” said Kelsey Mersing, the program’s public relations assistant.

According to her, the program will begin with an introduction of the Sandy Township police officers in attendance. She said the children will be taught that officers are “friendly, approachable and work to keep them safe every day” and are around to help if they need it.

She said the children’s attention will be attained with the first magic trick. “This trick gets the children focused and reinforces program rules: no talking; paying attention; laughing; learning; and having fun,” she said.

Once the “edu-tainer” has their attention, Mersing said the children will be asked to recall some safety rules that they use at home, at school or out-and-about. The edu-tainer, she said, will share his ideas regarding bus safety, car safety and Internet safety.

Further, she explained that each idea will be represented by a light, which will be tossed into a magic bag. The children, she said, will be asked to volunteer to “toss” up some of their ideas and the edu-tainer will magically catch them and place them into the bag, as well.

“With the last toss, all of the bright ideas light up the bag,” said Mersing. “The children love that they can see their safety rules being shared with the audience.”

Stranger Awareness is covered each year and this year’s lesson will be illustrated by “blending” four, different-colored scarves together. For this illustration, each scarf will represent a safety rule to remember when dealing with strangers, she said.

When the scarves are put together, she said they are magically blended to form one scarf, just as these rules will all come together to form one rule. This rule, she said, will teach the children to keep safe if a stranger bothers them and it is “don’t go, run, yell and tell a grown-up what happened.”

This year, Mersing said the Officer Phil Program will also talk about the value of respect. As the edu-tainer pulls rabbits from a hat, she said the children will be reminded that, like the rabbits, they are all different.

She said the children will be taught that “they do not all act the same, dress the same or look the same. But even though they are all different, they can still work together to help each other be the best they can be,” she said.

“The edu-tainer will emphasize that they should treat others the way they want to be treated and show respect for their peers, families, teachers, the police and most important, show respect for themselves.”

According to her, Officer Phil’s Special Pal this year is Turbo the Turtle. He will talk to the children about making healthy choices, such as eating right, drinking plenty of water, exercising and getting enough rest. She noted that Turbo loves to skateboard so he will reinforce the importance of wearing a helmet, too.

Lastly, she said that Turbo will address the issue of bullying. “Since Turbo acts different, he understands the importance of accepting each other’s differences. He wants the children to know that if they are being bullied or know someone who is being bullied that it is OK to talk to a grown-up they know about the situation or how they feel, like a teacher, a family member or even a police officer,” she said.

She said that the final review of the safety lessons learned will happen at the end of the program when the children participate in a trivia game. The children, she said, will be divided into two teams and asked to think about the lessons they learned during the assembly.

As a post assembly activity, Mersing said that teachers, parents and children will be encouraged to go to the Web site officerphil.com and request additional materials. She said there are supplemental materials to reinforce the lessons taught in the program and in the activity books the children receive afterward.

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