Award-winning Safety Town, which opened in Portsmouth in 1975, is a miniature city in which realistic pedestrian traffic conditions are explained in the classroom and practiced on the streets of Safety Town.
The main objective of Safety Town is to develop pupil awareness of safety practices in order to help reduce pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Uniformed Auxiliary Officers, under the auspices of the Portsmouth Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit, provide classroom instruction.
A visit to Safety Town is a regular part of the City’s school system curriculum. In the spring, kindergarten and first graders learn pedestrian safety. Orientation begins with a film followed by classroom instruction and a walking tour of Safety Town. The classroom can accommodate approximately 50 pupils. Safety Town provides a location for children to practice safe walking in a more realistic environment.
In the fall, third grade pupils visit Safety Town to learn correct bicycle safety practices through classroom instruction and actual practice at the Safety Town site. Bicycles and helmets, either obtained by the city or donated by supporting businesses and charity organizations, are provided during instruction to reinforce the importance of safe practices.
All students receive information on safety belt/child safety seat laws and usage as a part of the lesson plan. This year, one of our instructors who is a retired principal, went an extra step to modify some of the curriculum to meet the state’s requirement regarding Standards of Learning.
Safety Town is the host site for special events such as “Safety in the Streets. Awards were presented to individuals who have been instrumental in not only bringing traffic safety messages to Portsmouth children, but who also supported the construction of a new Safety Town classroom.
The ribbon ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Safety Town classroom was also held on November 6, 2002, This addition will help to enhance the environment and future vision of the valuable learning tool.
Safety Town was the 1999 winner of the prestigious “Governors Transportation Safety Award” in the category of Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety. This informative method of teaching children the importance of pedestrian, bicycle and other safety related information, has attracted the attention of a neighboring city (Norfolk). As a result, representatives from the City of Norfolk have visited several times and have formed plans to develop their own Safety City. This has also strengthened an existing partnership between the two cities that value safety education as an important part of our community commitments.
Safety Town is supported by the Safety Town Committee. The committee is comprised of representatives from the Police department, School Board, Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, AAA, and concerned citizens and representatives from various other city departments, which also include the City manager, and a representative from the City Council.
We are proud to say that in 2002, approximately 4,500 students attended Portsmouth’s own Safety Town.