GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Eddie Eagle dropped by Addaville and Southwestern elementary schools Tuesday to discuss gun safety with students and teachers.
Students at Addaville Elementary attended a roughly hour-long assembly around 9:30 a.m. while Southwestern Elementary students had their assembly around 2 p.m.
“The Eddie Eagle program is a great way for us to interact with students and reinforce gun safety, allowing kids to see our deputies in a positive manner,” said Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning.
Earlier in the year, Gallia Local Schools Superintendent Jude Meyers told the Tribune that the district was also partnering with the sheriff’s office to provide the schools with school resource officers to help counsel and watch over student safety.
Eddie Eagle is a character created by the National Rifle Association and the central mascot of a program endorsed by the organization. The program attempts to coach young children considered too young to handle a firearm in identifying a gun, to leave it alone and tell a nearby adult about the gun’s presence. The program is geared toward children in preschool to third-grade ages.
Eddie Eagle advises four actions to children who find a gun, generally in the form of a song. Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.
Deputy Cpl. Jim Spears spoke with students at the schools and started the program asking students why adults had rules and why it was important to be safe. He then spoke about the necessity of gun safety and the importance in being able to tell the difference between a real gun versus a toy gun.
After a brief video featuring the Eddie Eagle safety song, Spears quizzed teachers and students alike on the dance moves and material they had just discussed. Eddie Eagle made an appearance and assisted Sears.
The Eddie Eagle program also encourages parents to speak with their children about gun safety. Adults are asked to always keep all guns out of the reach of individuals who should not have them. Keep ammunition securely stored so no inappropriate individuals can come in contact with it. Parents are asked to have frank discussions with children about the uses and history of firearms. The program hopes that “by removing the mystery surrounding guns, a child will be far less curious about guns, and more likely to follow safety rules.”
In a study produced by the Harvard School of Public Health’s David Hemenway and Sara Solnick of the University of Vermont, roughly 110 children die in the U.S. under the age of 15 per year due to accidental shootings.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.