A farm is more than a home to many children. It’s the family’s livelihood, a playground and a classroom where children learn the value of hard work and responsibility. But sharing space with machinery, animals and hazardous materials can pose a danger to youngsters.
For the past eight years, Calumet Medical Center has sponsored a Safety Day as part of its mission to care for the health and well-being of the communities it serves. Calumet County has a very strong agri-business sector, and many young people are exposed to the dangers of farming - either directly or indirectly - on a daily basis. Each summer, the Safety Day teaches risk awareness and safe farm practices to 150 children and their parents from in and around the area.
According to Karin Wille, education and community service coordinator at Calumet Medical Center, the Safety Day involves the work of over 100 volunteers. Experts present the children with information on a variety of topics, teen leaders guide the participants through the stations, church group members serve meals, and local businesses donate equipment and provide financial support. “This event truly is a community-wide effort,” said Wille.
The volunteers work hard to make the day fun, educational and relevant. The emphasis is on situations kids may encounter with farm equipment; fire and animal safety, and safe use of ATVs and tools. In 2009, organizers added a parent session that was held at the conclusion of the day. The purpose of this session was to start a safety dialog with parents that could be continued in the home, throughout the year.
Last summer, two young people lost their lives in farm-related accidents in and around Calumet County. Both were in killed as a result of tractor rollovers. “While we will never know if attending a Safety Day would have changed the outcome for these two young people, I feel that it is my job to do what I can to try to prevent this heartbreak from happening to another family in our area,” said Wille.
A portion of the funds raised at a benefit for the family of Beth Ann Galligan, one of the rollover victims, was donated to Calumet Medical Center to be used for the Safety Day program. This money will be used to support the tractor safety portion of the Safety Day.
Thanks to the generous support of the staff at Calumet Medical Center, the businesses and organizations in our communities, and the families in our rural county, we are keeping kids safe, happy and healthy -- one Safety Day at a time.