More than 50 pupils at Deer Chase Elementary sang and moved along to a new jingle introduced by the Richmond County Marshal’s Office on Friday as they learned about gun safety.
The song, which prompts children to stop, don’t touch, run away and tell a grownup, is part of a gun accident prevention program created in 2015 by the National Rifle Association and introduced to first- and second-graders in the Richmond County School System this year.
The program, known as Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program, is an 8-minute video that features Eddie Eagle and four of his friends who make up the “Wing Team” and influence “safety first” after a gun is found hidden inside of a blue backpack at a park.
Lt. James Sabb, who is one of two marshals who teach the program at elementary schools, said the program provides a teaching opportunity for law enforcement following an October incident in which a handgun was found and confiscated from a pupil at Windsor Spring Elementary School.
“With some of the incidents that took place at some of the schools last year where kids brought guns we at the marshal’s office just decided that we could probably team up with the Board of Education and maybe get in and do some gun safety talks with the kids,” Sabb said.
And it did not take very long for the pupils at Deer Chase Elementary to catch on.
“Just to see that they’re actually singing the song even before the video was completed really warms my heart,” Sabb said. “They’re really listening to the presentation, have gotten something out, and have accepted the Eddie Eagle Gun Prevention program with open arms.”
Also finding the program acceptable was the school’s principal, Valerie Kelly.
“We want our children to be informed,” she said. “We want children to understand that if their parents do have (a gun) at home we want them to be safe because their safety at all times is important to us.”
Gloria McFann, a literacy peer professional at Deer Chase , said the program has a lesson for adults as well.
“I feel like a lot of adults aren’t taking into consideration that the kids of today are not like when we grew up,” she said. “Our parents could have had a gun in the house and we knew not to touch it, but kids of today they’ll just go and pick it up. So adults need to practice safety as well.”