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  • Photo by Cameron Kittle, Telegraph staff.

    Junior students from Nashua High School South try on firefighting equipment and talk to younger students about fire safety during Ledge Street School's Safety Day Wednesday.
  • Photo by Cameron Kittle, Telegraph staff.

    Ledge Street Elementary School students race to erase bacteria from white boards made to look like teeth Wednesday, as part of a fun game created by health science students from Nashua High School South to teach the kids about dental hygiene. The event was one of many stations at Ledge Street's Safety Day, an annual project managed by South students.
Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ledge Street students get health, safety tips from Nashua South students at Safety Fair

Cameron Kittle

A group of first-graders in red plastic fire helmets crowded around a small table in the gymnasium at Ledge Street Elementary School in Nashua on Wednesday morning, ready for a game of Internet safety bingo.

Each student grabbed a crayon and colored in their game boards, as older peers posed questions about computers and online activity. Other kids raced around in the background, strapping on life jackets and touring a fire truck from Nashua Fire Rescue.

It was all part of the annual Safety Day at Ledge Street School, as the elementary students learned health and safety tips from juniors at Nashua High School South. The event is the culmination of a four-month project in the high school’s health sciences program.

“It’s a great feeling actually teaching these kids,” said South junior Melissa Lambert, who helped organize the Internet Safety booth. “There’s so much kids can do on the Internet. They’ll click on anything.”

Lambert, 17, and her group did a lot of research to find material and present the subject in a way that kindergartners and first- and second-grade students would understand.

Her other classmates found that to be one of the hardest aspects of the Safety Day project.

“It was hard to find reading material at their age level,” said Kayla Cichocki, who wore a bright pink shirt to promote Bike Safety. Her group talked to Ledge Street students about the proper equipment they need to ride a bike and then led them through a game to try on helmets, light reflectors and knee and elbow pads as fast as possible.

South health teacher Colleen Darwish said the Safety Day project, now in its ninth year, gives the high school students a chance to come up with hands-on activities, get outside the classroom and practice peer mentoring.

“It allows the older kids to be role models to the younger kids,” she said. “We do a lot of hands-on activities in class, but to take what they’re doing in class and apply it to the real world is a thrill for them.”

The subject matter, picked by each group of students, changes every year. This year, tips on nutrition and fitness, dental hygiene, first aid and the weather were presented. There were safety groups for just about every situation, too. Fire and water safety, car safety, what to wear on the beach or how to behave around the pool, and electrical safety in the house.

“They get excited because they know the answers,” said South student Caitlin Neary, at the car safety station.

The short lesson always ends with a game, which helps to keep the kids interested, said South junior Ashley Dean, at the pool safety booth.

“Just keep them busy,” she said. “They really like to participate.”

Cody Witham, 17, said the kids seemed to have fun at every location. Witham and his group taught students the importance of daily exercise and playing outside, as well as how to eat healthy.

“They like to be running around and hanging out with the big kids,” he said. “When we do the game with them, they’re more likely to want to do it.”

The Ledge Street students take the lessons home to their parents and receive prizes for participation, like coloring books, toothbrushes or the red plastic fire helmets each child happily collected from the fire safety station.

“It’s fun to teach these kids and see their reactions,” said South student Devin Decosta, at the bike safety station.

Lt. Steve Buxton and members of Nashua Fire Rescue were on hand to give kids a tour of the department’s newest fire truck, and several members of the American Medical Response team showed off their ambulance.

Buxton said the lessons are simple and important reinforcement for the youngsters, but the Safety Day project is even more valuable for the high school students learning to teach others and present their work.

“It’s gives them an opportunity to do something outside the classroom and see if they’re interested in it before college,” he said.

The Learning Curve appears Thursdays in The Telegraph. Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or Also, follow Kittle on Twitter (@Telegraph_CamK).