Junior Citizens scheme educates almost 5,000 local schoolchildren

The Junior Citizens Trust Oxfordshire, which encourages pupils to think for themselves and at all times prioritise their own safety, has been running for 23 years and is taught by partners from Oxfordshire County Council's Fire & Rescue Service, its Trading Standards Team, together with officers from Thames Valley Police, St John Ambulance, The British Red Cross and Chiltern Railways staff.

It is delivered in specially-adapted rooms at the Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Franklin-Vermeulen Safety Centre at Oxford's Rewley Road Fire Station, putting the ten and eleven year olds in interactive learning scenarios with all having the opportunity to practice making a 999 emergency call.

Students are also given useful safety information, plus facts and figures relating to each scenario, where they are encouraged to engage with instructors by asking and answering questions.

Students from Oxford's Wood Farm School will experience a two-hour visit from 9.30am on Wednesday 18 June.

Equipping youngsters with the right practical safety skills

Julie Jordan, current Junior Citizens Trust secretary and Home and Community Safety Coordinator for Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Year Six children are at an age where they might be venturing out on their own for certain activities, so it is vitally important that they are equipped with the skills needed to deal with practical safety situations.

"It is essential that children know the best and safest ways to react to an emergency or potential danger by keeping themselves safe, whether that be online or out and about. During the scenarios, students are offered the chance to make a 999 call, where they speak to trained professionals who deal with real-life calls. They can learn about safety by experiencing mock-risk, which is good practice.

"We educate thousands of children each year and receive very positive feedback from those who take part. Children being given the opportunity to make practical decisions themselves in mocked-up situations can only be of benefit for them should they encounter the real thing."

Joined-up work

County Councillor Judith Heathcoat, current Junior Citizens Trust Chairman, said: "Staying safe at any age is extremely important, but educating youngsters at an age where they may be vulnerable or unsure of what actions the best steps to take is vital.

"The Junior Citizens Trust is an excellent example of cost effective joined-up work from a variety of organisations to deliver an informative and practical course to children in Oxfordshire."

The Junior Citizens Trust is a partnership scheme led by Oxfordshire County Council and includes; Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service; Trading Standards; Thames Valley Police; the British Red Cross; St John Ambulance; Chiltern Railways the Office of Rail Regulation and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The nine scenarios participants can experience are:

  • A railway station platform and simulated train track, where a dummy body is on a railway line: children are given a range of information about the dangers of high speed trains, train tracks and encouraged to take stock of the situation, plus make a 999 call with details of where they are and what has happened
  • A child's bedroom, with a computer displaying a chat room. Students are left to decide what to do when chat messages appear on the screen. Subsequently a police officer enters the room and reveals that they were the one posting the messages. A discussion then takes place about the dangers of internet use and how strangers can be portrayed as representing a completely different person
  • A room where an interactive cyber bullying DVD can be played and the children are then encouraged to discuss the implications of bullying others by means of modern technology as opposed to normal main stream physical bullying
  • A simulated living room, where children learn about home safety by identifying items in the room which could cause potential danger and the reasons why
  • A bank by a river. Children are taught about the dangers of playing near to water sources, plus how to assist in water rescues should anyone get into difficulties,  without placing themselves in further danger and what different coloured flags seen at beaches mean
  • A First Aid room, where children are shown how to place an unconscious casualty into the recovery position and then under the supervision of trained first aid professionals get the opportunity to practice it on each other
  • Children enter 'Castle Alley', a darkened, graffiti-scrawled winding corridor, where a police officer talks to them before they are left to walk down the alley on their own.  Once alone and distracted, they encounter another police officer dressed as an ordinary person, who asks the children for help and tries to lead them away. Once the children reach a safer zone, a discussion session is then held with the two police officers about the scenario, the feelings the children felt and how they can recognise these for future use when in potential danger
  • A fire safety scenario where children are told they are on the third floor of a block of flats. They enter a kitchen to discover a number of possible fire prevention related dangers - a fire alarm goes off and they have to decide what to do
  • Pupils are confronted with a dummy on a road having fallen off a bike - they are encouraged to make a 999 call. Road safety officers then discuss dangers associated with roads, plus a reminder about the importance of wearing a safety helmet and reflective clothing when riding a bike