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Safety City: An outdoor classroom focused on safety

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
April 25, 2012 at 11 p.m.


Longview's Safety City continues to make a positive difference in the lives of area youngsters more than 20 years after it was established, according to its director.

Libby Alexander said the youth-oriented training facility is a child-sized miniature Longview - complete with buildings, streets, overpasses and a railroad crossing.

"There are only three safety cities in Texas, and ours is unique because it is the only one that is child-sized," she said. The other two are on a scale similar to real-world streets and cityscapes, Alexander said.

"We had our 20th anniversary this past fall and feel that Safety City continues to make a difference in the lives of children. It's hands-on, and they like that," she said.

The spring program is for kindergarten students while a fall program is for fourth-graders.

The venue was established in 1991 by the Junior League of Longview and Stemco, Alexander said.

She said the site needs periodic updates because it's outdoors and gets heavy use.

"That's why we're conducting a capital campaign now," she said. Part of the fundraising effort to keep Longview Safety City in good shape can be found through a donation link on the group's website - www.longviewsafetycity.com. Plus, young visitors usually go home with a flier to inform their parents of the need for donations, Alexander said.

She said Longview Safety City has been a place of learning for youngsters for 20 years, and she and others hope to continue that effort for years to come.

The child-sized city features 16 small buildings representing a police and fire station, a train depot, a bank, a church, a hospital, the newspaper, and business and professional offices. There is an auto dealer, an insurance building, a museum, a weather station, a grocery, a restaurant, and a service station.

Alexander said the city simulates the real traffic environment with working traffic lights and major traffic signs that dictate the movement of pedestrians, bicycles and small cars operated by children. She said the teaching experience is enhanced with firefighters and police officers who are an important part of the learning process.

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