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Safety Village Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

The Safety Village is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. P-J photo by Jay Young

The Chautauqua Safety Village in Ashville has helped educate over 31,5000 children since it was opened to the public, and is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2020.

The village first opened in 2010 thanks to a $1.76 million grant through the Transportation Enhancement Program, and does not rely on taxpayer funding.

Featuring a fenced-in, child-sized village of streets, traffic signals and buildings, the facility provides local children with hands-on training for a variety of emergency scenarios and preventable injuries. Instruction at the village includes safety classes covering fire, traffic, distracted driving, firearms, poison and bicycle training in addition to first aid, CPR and the use of a defibrillator.

Village staff also help to install around 100 smoke detectors per year throughout the community, and educate the public on the proper use of car seats.

The DFT Communications Education Facility hosts indoor classes, and includes a functioning kitchen with simulated fire and smoke. As part of its tenth year anniversary, the village has received accounts from children who have been able to use their training in real-world scenarios.

In one case, a former female student was able to use her safety training to survive a house fire.

“She basically, because she came to safety training, she insisted that her father buy an escape ladder out of a window and that they plan out a safe place to meet if they did have a house fire,” said Dena Hirliman, community outreach coordinator. “The unthinkable actually happened. The house caught on fire and they were able to escape because of her training and survived.”

The village has shifted its classes for students online due to COVID-19, with positive results, and is also looking to expand its programs to school districts in Olean and Erie, Pa.

“We have new features, a distracted driving simulator that would be great for teenagers learning how to drive,” Hirliman said. “We had some virtual classes and they went so great. We had rave reviews from teachers and students for our virtual classes.”

Village staff are also looking at future programs that would open the facility to more public use.

The village plans to host an open house on Sept. 26, which will include public demonstrations of new programs, a tour of the site and classrooms as well as food.

If former students have memorable experiences from their education at the village, please contact Hirliman at dena@chautauquasafetyvillage.com.

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