A GROUP of Flintshire schoolchildren learnt some of ‘the most important lessons of their life’ during a visit with The High Sheriff of Clwyd to an award-winning safety centre.
Year five pupils from Drury Primary School in Drury, Buckley, learnt how to prevent and deal with a wide range of dangerous and difficult scenarios at DangerPoint in Talacre, near Holywell.
The group of 18 pupils, who were joined by The High Sheriff of Clwyd Stephanie Catherall who is on the Board of Trustees for the centre, received powerful messages about a wide range of risks including internet safety, bullying and trespassing on the railway, as well as being shown why the home is the most dangerous place of all.
The High Sheriff, Mrs Catherall, who took over the independent, non-political Royal role back in March, said: “DangerPoint is a unique learning environment for the children and young people of North Wales.
“I am very honoured to be on the Board of Trustees during my term in office as High Sheriff of Clwyd.”
Mrs Catherall, from Nercwys, who also sits on both the Crimebeat and North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) committees which both aim to support young people and projects which make a difference in their neighbourhood, added: “Since my last visit I am pleased to see all the new developments at the centre as the displays need to keep pace with the ever widening range of dangers. It’s been enjoyable seeing the children so engaged.”
The centre was set up through a public and private partnership 13 years ago and has just launched a new interactive display which enables children to imitate a real life 999 call on a huge screen which has been adapted to look like a mobile phone.
Mark Biltcliffe, head of Drury Primary School in Buckley, described the tour of the “amazing” DangerPoint facility as a “rite of passage” for schoolchildren as they learned how to prevent and deal with a wide range of dangerous and difficult scenarios.
Mr Biltcliffe, who has taken children to the centre every year since it opened, was hugely impressed by the new 999 educational feature.
He said: “I was really pleased to see the new developments. The big mobile phone was really good. The message was clear and very visual.
“It really showed the children how to do a 999 call, to approach it calmly and to be clear. It was also good for them to understand how important it is knowing your postcode in these situations.
“I see coming to DangerPoint as a rite of passage. It could be the most important lesson they learn at school. It could save their life.
“It is an amazing facility and it’s amazing to have it on our doorstep in Flintshire. The warnings and advice about hazards, internet safety, bullying – there is something for everyone.
“At least one of these risks the children will be confronted with at some stage and we hope they make the right choice.
“I would encourage all schools to do the tour. Year Five is an ideal age group – they’re now being launched into the world, high school is coming and they need to be resilient.
“The lessons they learn on the tour are very powerful. Things like not travelling on your own on public transport and having something like Childline to contact.
“It’s been another great trip for our children and it was nice for them to also be able to meet the High Sheriff of Clwyd.”
Ten-year-old Drury Primary School pupil Charlie Hopper took part in a role play phone conversation with the ambulance service during the tour and says the experience of making a 999 call will help him in the event of a real emergency.
He said: “I’ve never had to make a 999 call before but now I feel very confident. I understand that you need to stay calm.
“I was really excited to come on the tour and it’s been really interesting to learn how to be safe. I will remember lots of things when I go home.”
During their tour, pupils were faced with potential hazards and dangers in mocked up scenarios such as the living room, kitchen and bedroom at home, a construction site, train carriage, beach, a farm, crossing the road and a convenience store.
The children were also informed about the dangers of the internet and how they should use private social media settings and a ‘random picture’ for their profiles, as well as discussing the issue of cyber bullying and the importance of confiding in a responsible adult, screenshotting messages and blocking a bully’s number.
Pupil Amelia Gudger-Jackson, aged 10, said she really enjoyed learning how to be safe at the beach and getting to sit in a mocked up lifeboat.
She said: “The tour was really good. It’s been amazing seeing everything set up like the real thing. I’ve had a really fun time.
“We’ve learned a lot of stuff and it’s improved our knowledge of dangers. I’ve learned a lot of things I didn’t know.
“My favourite part was the lifeboat, it felt really real. The little details on the painting of the beach and the life jackets made it come to life.
“I feel like I would know what to do now making a 999 call if ever anything was to happen. I’d feel confident doing that.”
DangerPoint centre manager Julie Evans said: “We’ve had more than 90,000 children come through the doors since we opened in early 2006.
“The children absolutely love it and it’s something they remember for a long time after and want to come back with their families, which is great.
“We’re always trying to make sure the centre is up to date and relevant for the children.”
To find out more about DangerPoint, go to www.dangerpoint.org.uk