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Well-known charity offers an array of programs to educate children on safety 

Community ProfileWell-known charity offers an array of programs to educate children on safety 

For close to two decades, the Children’s Safety Village of Brant has been working closely with various school boards and local police and firefighting services to deliver hands-on programs to teach children about safety.

Dr. Leo Vos, who has been the President of the organization since 2016, explained the Safety Village’s start.

“It started as an idea for a children’s safety village in 1998 as a millennium project [at the Kiwanis Club of Brantford]…when it was realized that the incidence of childhood injury was around 28% higher in Brantford, Brant County, and Six Nations than the provincial average,” Vos explained. “It turned out to be a huge project, taking us till 2005 when we opened. We were the ninth safety village at the time, and we were the only one in Ontario, I believe, that opened without any debt.”

The Grade Four Fire Safety Program discusses Fire and Carbon Monoxide Alarms, and learning the three sides of the Fire Triangle and how it works as well as visiting Sparky’s Apartment (identifying fire hazards and practicing escaping from fires.) Photo courtesy The Children’s Safety Village of Brant.

Vos, who is a dentist by profession, explained the importance of programs being interactive. 

“Basically, the premise [of the village] is teaching kids about safety. We believe doing [the learning] hands-on is better than standing in front of them and just telling them about it. So, the whole concept is built around hands-on learning [with] specific programming for children from kindergarten to grade eight,” Vos said. “All of the programming is developed and provided by police and fire instructors [who] coordinate with each board of education to make sure the programming meets the ministry requirements. And if there’s any concerns with the programming, they work out the details. The safety village itself provides the facility for them to do the programming.”

Thousands of people attended The Children’s Safety Village of Brant’s annual Halloween Haunt event on October 28, 2023. The event aims at connecting with the community and showcasing the importance of safety to kids and families. Photo courtesy The Children’s Safety Village of Brant.

However, Vos continues getting good feedback from children in the community, especially many who have experienced the village when they were in elementary school.

“Talking with teachers and some parents, we do get [good] feedback, and I know personally, whenever I run into people at events, they remember the village [and] Sparky’s Apartment [where] we have two rooms that are a kitchen and a bedroom, and fire hazards are set up there [for] kids get to identify. We also fill the rooms with theatrical smoke, and the kids are taught how to stay down, check the door for heat, climb out the window safely, [and] call 911. So, the kids always remember that experience,” said Vos. “They also remember driving around in the jeeps [where] they learned when to stop [and] yield, [about] railroad crossings [and road safety.]”

On April 6th, 2024 The Children’s Safety Village of Brant held an Ontario Trillium Foundation Recognition Event to celebrate a $20,700 Capital grant from the Ontario Government through the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Local representatives of Brantford, Brant County, and The Six Nations of the Grand River were present. The grant provided the Safety Village an opportunity to purchase 30 Children’s Bikes (for the Bike Safety program) and 32 learning tablets (for the Internet and Fire safety.) Photo courtesy The Children’s Safety Village of Brant.

The village also provides space for other various community organizations for training.

“The local autism dog services use our facility, and they had their graduation recently. They have been able to teach their clients with dogs, in a real-life environment, without having to be out on the street,” Vos stated. “The police canine unit uses our facility for training their dogs…enacting real-life [scenarios]…So again, it’s all the different community groups that can use the facility for their training.”

Nevertheless, the village continues to get the word out through two popular events, held annually.

“Our two events we have every year are on Easter and Halloween. For this past Easter event, we had just over 3,000 people come and for this past Halloween event we had around 2,900 people. Those are always big and fun events,” he said. “We’ve done these events for years, and we have always gotten a great response. We’ll have different groups and companies come in and hand out treats, and the police and fire departments are always there [with their] fire trucks and their police cars…which is always a big hit.”

The Children’s Safety Village of Brant hosted their Easter event on March 30, 2024 which included an Easter Egg Hunt event. Along with the Halloween event, the Safety Villages hold these events to remind people in the community about accident prevention as well as educating children about safety. Photo courtesy The Children’s Safety Village of Brant.

Also, for programming, the village hosts SAFE ZONE during the summertime. It is a falls-prevention exercise program, helping seniors to remain independent.

“They come and use our facility two mornings a week during July and August, because they lose the use of the community centers like Woodman because of children’s summer camps,” Vos explained.

The Children’s Safety Village of Brant offers other important programs including ones dealing with Internet Safety as well as Social Media Safety which provides children with strategies to keep them safe while online. These classes are delivered in partnership with local Police School Safety Officers as well as being based on the Ministry of Education Ontario Curriculum. Photo courtesy The Children’s Safety Village of Brant.

While the Village gets strong support from various organizations and people in the community, Vos explained that they are always looking for donations to continue its important work.

“We’re always looking for donations or support. We do get grants [as well as] have the Kiwanis Club of Brantford as our biggest financial supporter…We also get some money from the school boards and the police and fire departments for using our facilities for training,” Vos said. “The Easter and Halloween are great fundraising events for us as well. [However,] we’re always looking for support, whether it’s through community or corporate donations.”

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