Safety Zone wraps productive third year

WINDER - Be it drug abuse, gangs or poison prevention, there's nary a topic Barrow County's Safety Zone shies from tackling.

The Safety Zone - a coalition of local and state organizations offering live-action tips to youngsters in Barrow's school system - recently capped its third successful year. The burgeoning group now offers safety programs for each school in the district, said founder Lt. Scott Dakin of the Barrow County Fire Department.

"We have so many organizations and programs that every school was different (last year)," said Dakin. "Each school was able to choose programs that were most beneficial to their students' lives."

Programs vary by grade level. Dog and bike safety are popular among elementary schoolers. For older students, topics run the gamut from dating violence to the pitfalls of gang life.

More universal topics, from substance abuse prevention to bullying issues, are molded appropriately to the students' grade levels, Dakin said.

"Each organization and presenter has been so dedicated," said Safety Zone coordinator Meg Loggins of Rutledge Crane Service. "They are what made this year so successful."

More than a dozen businesses and organizations in Barrow, ranging from Georgia Power to the Winder YMCA, belong to the Safety Zone Coalition, a leadership body.

After just three years, Dakin said he was impressed by the program's reach.

"We were able to get a lot of great information to the students," he said, "and hopefully help them live better, safer lifes."