Safety, respect and magic

First Posted: 9/26/2014

Run. Yell. Tell.

That’s what children should do when approached by a stranger, according to “Magic Dave” Carr and his friendly Turtle puppet named Turbo.

If a stranger tries to get you to go somewhere with them, the pair told the students on Sept. 26 at South Abington Elementary School during an Officer Phil safety program, you should run away from them, yell for help and tell a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher or law enforcement official.

Carr brings the Officer Phil program to about 300 schools per year, sometimes speaking to multiple assemblies at each school. He visited South Abington for two assemblies — kindergarten, first and second grade, then kindergarten, second and third grade — and Our Lady of Peace School for one assembly of kindergarten through fourth-grade students.

This year’s program theme is “respect,” focusing children on respect for themselves, each other, their teachers and their parents.

Carr also gave the students advice about bullying, saying there are three things one should do when encountering a bully: First, ask them to stop. If that doesn’t work, walk away. And if the problem continues, tell a teacher or another responsible adult. He also reminded the students to “be a buddy, not a bully.”

Carr said programs like these are an important part of early education, as “the younger they are, the more impressionable they are.”

“The more we tell them over the next four years,” he said, “the more they will get it.”

But that “telling” doesn’t have to be boring. “Magic Dave” and Turbo pair up to use illusion, puppetry and games to get the point across.

“It’s a fun way to get them to understand safety and a little bit of responsibility through magic and puppets,” Carr said, “and I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like magic and puppets.”

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