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Local youth does ‘the right thing’

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Dustin Davis, seven, has made a lot of people proud after using what he had learned from the “Risk Watch” program upon finding a gun near his home last week.

“Everybody in the school wants my autographed,” he smiled when talking about his “newfound fame.”

Last Wednesday. the grade two student at St. Michael’s School was playing near his Webster Avenue home after school when he came across a rifle in the brush.

Remembering what he had been taught by his teacher, Randy Kirk, a few weeks before, the youngster left the gun there and went to get his father, Daniel.

The local OPP were contacted, who came to the house to retrieve the firearm, taking time afterwards to talk to the boy.

“They told me I did the right thing,” he noted.

And the police weren’t the only ones pleased with his actions.

“I’m really impressed Dustin knew what to do,” said his mother, Terry. “I’m not pleased there’s guns in the neighbourhood but I think he did a really good job.

“‘Risk Watch’ is something that should be taught in school,” she added.

“I’m really proud of Dustin,” echoed Kirk, who’s been teaching his class about safety through the “Risk Watch” program for several months.

“He followed what he learned from the component--if you find a gun, leave it alone, get a parent, and call the police,” he remarked.

Kirk said instances like this made him realize the immediate impact the program could have on students.

“I feel it’s worthwhile. It’s easy to teach, and it covers elements of safety not normally in the curriculum, such as firearm safety,” he added.

Greg Allan, a “Risk Watch” coalition member and local firefighter, also was impressed to see the educational program in action.

“After just two months, we’ve got a clear example of what the program educates children for,” he enthused. “It‘s gratifying to be part of something that sees results like that.”

The “Risk Watch” program started in district schools in October. Teachers have incorporated program information into weekly lesson slots as part of the students’ regular health class time.

The curriculum--divided into five learning modules (pre-school through grade eight)--is designed to involve children as active participants, not just as listeners.

“Risk Watch” targets educating youngsters on the eight leading causes of injury for children--motor vehicles accidents; fires and burns; poisoning; falls; water hazards; bike and pedestrian hazards; choking, suffocation and strangulation; and firearm accidents.

The “Risk Watch” pilot here will be completed by February, and may be carried on down the road if evaluations by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office are positive.

Overseen by the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, the “Risk Watch” team consists of Allan (Fort Frances Fire Department), Ed Cain (teacher rep), Teresa Dennis (curriculum co-ordinator for the separate school board), Grace Silander (Fort Frances Ambulance), and Cst. Larry Hawkins (Atikokan Police Service).

It also relies on the co-operation of services such as the local OPP and the Northwestern Health Unit.

Other schools participating in “Risk Watch” program include Sixth, Street, Robert Moore, J.W. Walker, St. Francis, Sturgeon Creek, Huffman, McCrosson-Tovell and Our Lady of the Way.

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