Did you realize that this is the last full week of school?
Next week, our kids will finish up their final exams and experience that wonderful feeling of freedom as the pressures of school drop away and they start their summer vacations.
Have you thought about what your kids will do all summer?
The fact is, busy kids are safe kids. When kids are out of school, studies show they are at greater risk for becoming victims of violent crimes. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors like smoking, drinking, and doing drugs.
With summer vacation starting next weekend, there’s no time like the present to figure out productive activities for your kids to participate in, activities designed to keep them healthy and safe.
If your kids just want to stay at home—to watch movies, eat snacks, play video games, and maybe read a little (if you’re lucky), remember that staying at home can include some risks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children as young as nine or ten may be left home alone for brief periods, as long as the children are comfortable with the arrangement. However, before you allow a child to stay home, be sure to follow these recommendations:
• Instruct your child on how to reach you or a trusted adult (write the phone numbers down).
• Review possible scenarios your child could face and explain how to handle them (e.g., what to do if the phone rings or the electricity goes out or someone knocks on the door).
• Explain how to call 911 and write down the information a dispatcher is likely to ask for: your child’s full name, address, etc.
If you are not yet comfortable leaving your kids at home alone, don’t worry! Ukiah has plenty of great ways to keep kids safe and having fun.
For kids ages 6 to 12 years old, the City of Ukiah’s Summer Safari Day Camp offers activities like crafts, sports, drama and more. The program is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Families who can’t afford to send their children can apply for scholarships.
This year, Summer Safari is adding a new and exciting program for teens 13-15 years old. The teen program will focus on life skills that are not often taught in school, like how to apply for a job, balance a checkbook, prepare to apply for college, and change a tire. Teens will also spend some time goofing around, having fun and playing games.
In addition to Summer Safari, the City pool offers a fantastic way to keep kids busy and out of trouble. The pool’s public swim hours are Monday through Friday 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
In addition to the open public swimming hours, the pool offers a variety of swim lessons and aquatic fitness classes. Knowing how to swim allows kids to be safe around water and provides them with a great way to exercise. Each summer more than 800 kids and adults participate in swim classes.
Another option for weekday fun this summer is the Ukiah Boys and Girls Club, which provides a wonderful place for school-age kids to learn and grow, all while having fun. The low-cost club membership includes summertime supervision, allowing kids to spend their days filled with engaging activities. If you would like more information about the Boys and Girls Club, visit www.ukiahbgc.org
While many kids with time on their hands make good choices, some don’t. We all want to believe our kids will make good choices and won’t succumb to peer pressure or curiosity, but filling their time with positive activities reduces opportunities for risky behavior.
Remember, busy kids are safe kids–especially during the summer.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.