'Clown School' Not A Waste Of Taxpayer Money

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Editor:

This letter is in response to a letter by Wayne Terry of Payson, recently published in your paper.

Mr. Terry believes that sending firefighters to clown school is a frivolous and unnecessary expense to the taxpayers of his community. We believe it is not, and here is why.

It is cheaper to prevent fires and injuries than it is to fight fires and rebuild lives that have been shattered by fire.

Teaching our children to be fire safe is important. Teach them not to play with fire and what to do if their home or clothes catch fire.

At issue really, is which method should we use to teach these skills to our children?

The "traditional" method was to have a firefighter visit the school and show the kids a smoke detector, and tell them what to do in the event of a fire in their house.

Boring. A lecture.

Then, over 20 years ago, educators discovered that by using clowns, puppetry, songs and involving the children, they paid closer attention and the message was retained better.

Thus was born the concept of Educational Characterization.

Look at the success of programs like "Sesame Street" and "Barney" and you can see how the concept works.

The "clown schools" that Mr. Terry references are workshops where fire educators teach each other techniques that work.

Through education, we can prevent fires and injuries to children.

That is the true goal of fire departments. Putting out fires is treating a symptom, not the cause.

We see clown training to be another "tool" in the firefighters' arsenal of tools. Is it necessary? Yes. Has anyone ever suffered unduly because a firefighter couldn't properly tie a giraffe from a balloon? We don't tie balloons, we teach safety. And yes, children have suffered because they did not know what to do in case of a fire.

Bryan Jarvis, Dallas, Texas

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