Salem Baptist Preschool has a visit from local heroes as they celebrate Week of the Young Child

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Kids from Salem Baptist Daycare and Preschool sit in the fire truck with State Fire Inspector for Mo Division of Fire Safety Brian Lathrom beside them. From left, Selah Williams, Lane Parker, Shyla Jennings, Killian Nye, Sawyer Semkin, Rain Harrison, Briar Moore, Jasper Lilly, Clara Damron. Courtesy of Salem Baptist Daycare and Preschool

NEW LONDON, Mo. — Kids at Salem Baptist Daycare and Preschool spent time on Tuesday getting to know some local heroes.

The Ralls County Sheriff’s office, New London Fire Department, MO Division of Fire Safety, and Ralls County Ambulance where kids were able to connect with those in uniform, who otherwise they might find intimidating to approach.

From sitting in a police car, checking out levers on the fire engine, trying on way-too-big firefighters’ coats and helmets, to handling a non venomous snake brought by Ralls County Sheriff Brad Stinson—it was a busy day. 

It was part of the weeklong celebration, Week of the Young Child, a national week of awareness for needs met through early childhood programs. The annual event is coordinated by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association.

Terri Lathrom, director of the daycare, said on Monday they kicked off the week by dressing as their favorite superheroes and on Tuesday they introduced them to real-life superheroes.

“Yesterday was superhero day and we talked about how they need to be a hero every day by showing kindness and doing things for others,” she said. “We showed what it looks like to be a hero.”

The young students also learned that heroes sometimes have to make difficult choices. Some of the officers, firefighters, and the survival flight operators, the kids expected to meet were unable to attend due to emergency situations in the community.

“We talked to them today and I said, ‘Well, you know, they’re just out being heroes. They have to go when someone needs to be saved. Right?’” Terri said.

Lathrom said it’s important for kids to know their local emergency responders. She said depending on what traumas they have experienced, can sometimes cause kids to be afraid of certain officials.

“They love being able to see everyone locally, and they’re not scared, which is a big thing. We don’t want the kids to be scared of them,” Terri said. “We want them to know that they aren’t there to hurt them and that they are there to help. 

One face in the crowd the kids were already familiar with was Brian Lathrom, Terri’s husband. Brian is also the State Fire Inspector for the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, and he said working with young people is important to them.

“A lot of times we go through and just want to get them familiar with what we do, and what we look like when we get there in case of a fire or an emergency. We want to be comfortable and not be strangers to them, so the kids have a better understanding that we’re there to help them,” he said. “That’s the big thing. Just connecting with them. A lot of times they are scared if they are in a new situation, depending on what age they are.”

Brian said it’s always good for morale to come out and visit with the kids, and many of those who could not make it due to emergency circumstances would have been here otherwise.  

The daycare celebrated on Wednesday with a family breakfast, and a class on handwashing taught by the Ralls County Health Department, on Thursday with a prince and princess tea party, and Friday with a family fun night.

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