The Kiwanis Club of Orillia kicked off March with a special presentation by Glenn McCurdy, chair of the Kiwanis Children’s Safety Village (KCSV), and founding committee member Sandy Cobbe.

The KCSV is a favourite project of the local Kiwanis club — it has been shown to save lives through teaching children how to live and play safely.

The KCSV was launched in 2009 and was the first of its kind in North America. It consists of a portable village that is set up in public-school gymnasiums for a week at a time. The village includes safety-message banners, miniature trains and cars the children ride in and trained professionals offering educational presentations throughout the week.

Sessions include education on road safety, rail and quarry safety, fire safety and more, in conjunction with local police, fire, EMS, CN and two new partners — Telus and the Child Advocacy Centre.

The Child Advocacy Centre presents on topics such as cyber-bullying, which has become a significant threat to children today.

Telus focuses on providing cellphones to grades 5 and 6 children who do not have a home phone (a situation becoming more common). What many parents do not realize is most smart phones have a geotag in them, which enables a child’s location to be identified when he or she texts or emails a photo. This geotag means cellphones might be becoming more of a threat than the Internet to children by predators.

In addition to the 17 schools currently in the program rotation, Notre Dame Catholic School is going to be included as of this spring, and the committee is delighted to have the school on board.

Thanks to some successful fundraising and generous donations (from the Harris family, CN, Simcoe EMS, the Community Foundation of Orillia and Area, the CARE committee and many others), the project is in a solid financial state but is facing some large capital expenses in the near future, including replacement of the mat, the banners and the trailer.

All-Canadian Towing donates its services every week to deliver the village to that week’s assigned school on the Monday, then again to pick it up on the Friday, with Kiwanis members donating their time to set up the village and tear it down each week. This project is a community venture that offers a valuable service to keep children safe, and it’s one the Kiwanis club can be proud of.

For more information on the KCSV, how to participate or donate, check out csvorillia.org.

The Kiwanis Club of Orillia is growing, having added seven new members since president Ben Cole took office Oct. 1. Those interested in sharing the fun and camaraderie and in making a difference in the community can email btcole@rogers.com.

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