Community heroes teach life lessons to children

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Week of events promotes friendship, combats bullying

By Chris Ferguson

Crouched on all fours and laden with layers of heavy firefighting gear and a helmet, Dan Wenger, a firefighter with West Metro Fire Protection, inches forward, demonstrating to a group of captivated pre-kindergartners the way to get out of a building in a fire.

“Like a snake!” one child squeals.

“I can crawl real fast!” another exclaims.

Wenger was one of a number of professionals, including an officer from the Jeffco Sheriff's Office, a physician, a pilot, a teacher and a veterinary technician, who visited the Goddard School, at 8010 Shaffer Parkway, on Feb. 10 for Community Heroes Day. The day was an opportunity for the children to interact with role models and become comfortable around police officers and firefighters, according to the school's owner, Mandy King.

Community Heroes Day was the culmination of a week of activities at the school — called Goddard Community Games. Each day of the week was packed with activities designed to develop young minds and help promote friendship and cooperation and to teach children to work collaboratively in groups.

King said the week was a chance for students to learn to be part of a larger community. On Friendship Day, students created a community flag and participated in activities such as holding hands, singing friendship songs and focusing on positive attributes of their classmates. Other days' activities gave younger kids the opportunity to be paired with older students to teach them about difference. The school also held a Good Deed Day, when students collected canned food items and books for local charities, Family Tree and the Gemini Shelter for Women in Crisis. On Thursday, Goddard schools nationwide collected nearly 25,000 postcards to be sent to U.S. servicemen and women.

Activities were designed to give children self-confidence and to teach anti-bullying messages.

“In doing so, they just become leaders in the world, they feel comfortable in a boardroom later on in life, they help out their fellow man,” King said. “Children who are confident, who are self-assured and who are comfortable in social settings do not bully or become bullies. They tend to come to the aid of someone who is being bullied. They say, 'Hey, don't pick on my friend here.' ”

Anti-bullying activities can pay life-long dividends, King said.

“Bully-proofing in the preschool years begins with helping children build their self-esteem and to be comfortable in social settings,” King said.

This form of education encourages children to learn about acceptance, friendship, compassion, cooperation, kindness and empathy.

“We believe all of these traits build a child’s self-confidence and esteem. A confident child tends to avoid being bullied and avoids becoming a bully,” she said.


Contact news editor Chris Ferguson at chris@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1040.