Safetyville USA celebrates birthday at Healthy and Safety Expo

There was reason Saturday for double celebration at Sacramento’s Safetyville USA.

It was not only the 12th annual Family Safety and Health Expo, it also marked Safetyville’s 25th year of teaching safety and life skills to more than 200,000 children to date. The free event hosted around 3,000 children and their families for a fun-filled day of learning and celebrating.

In the middle of the expo, birthday festivities took the main stage and were led by Liz McClatchy, President and CEO of Safetyville Center Incorporated (SCI) and Terry Polvado, Vice President of SCI. Children sang "Happy Birthday" to Safetyville and were introduced to the new and yet-to-be-named mascot of Safetyville, a dog donning a blue helmet and red vest.

Children were invited to help name the mascot by dropping off their ideas in a box at Safetyville’s table.

SCI Board Chairman Ralph Sugimot led a cake-cutting ceremony, and happy kids lined up for cake and ice cream after taking part in a conga-line dance around the stage.

"It was such a great event for everyone. My daughter [three-years-old] and I both had a great time, and we both learned a lot," said Tabatha Barkley, who attended the event with her family.

Other birthday festivities throughout the day included a dance performance by Granite Bay Dance Connection, a "Red and Black Attack" by Kovar’s Karate Satori Academy and a magic performance by magician Trevor Wyatt.

More than 84 community safety and health organizations set up booths around the faux-town, which is a 1/3-scale replica of an actual city with mock streetlights, intersections, fast food stops and businesses.

While there was plenty of fun to be had at the Expo, there were also many resources for families in Sacramento and surrounding areas. Information on health care, child care, crisis centers and immunizations were just some of the booths on hand to teach families how to get help if needed.

Insurance companies State Farm, AAA and Allstate provided information on insurance. Shriners and Kaiser hospitals taught about preventative health measures, and groups like Bikers Against Child Abuse made an appearance on behalf of issues like child abuse.

Parked in front of the town were traveling organizations like D.A.R.T., an all-volunteer dive recovery teateam and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, with a smashed-up car from a fatal drunken driving accident.

Inside, the Sacramento Area Sewer District, another event sponsor, taught how to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease, and Safetyville’s own Safety Center taught about its driving simulation programs for teen drivers.

Government organizations like Sacramento Police Department, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District set up booths in front of their respective Safetyville buildings and handed out rulers, stickers and pens to children, along with lessons from firefighters and police officers on preventative safety and how to be a law-abiding citizen. Kids could see a California Highway Patrol motorcycle up close and sit behind the wheel of an actual fire truck.

Home Depot, one of event’s main sponsors, set up an assembly line where children of all ages were given flower pots and learned how to pot plants. Children were given Home Depot aprons with their names written on them, and by the end of the day, Safetyville was a sea of orange aprons.

Kids were encouraged to get stamps from the different booths they visited around the town and fill up Safetyville "passports." Full passports were eligible for raffle entries for three separate raffles held throughout the day. Passes to the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento Zoo, a child’s bike and helmet, boat rental from the Sac State Aquatics Center and a go cart from Rocket Motorsports were just some of the more than 15 prizes given away.

Kids leaving the Expo were weighed down with heavy bags filled with pencils, toothbrushes, pedometers, packages of Band-Aids and coupons to pick up their free child I.D. kits along with smiles and lessons learned.

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