By Yazmin Alvarez
Raquel Olivas doesn’t ride the bus to school, but after attending Rialto Unified’s first-ever safety fair Saturday at Werner Elementary, the 11-year-old says she’s more prepared than ever in the case she needs to hop on.
“I didn’t even know there were so many rules,” said Raquel, while touring a bus with RUSD’s transportation manager, Dora Parham.
“But now I know what to do if I ever take the bus for a field trip. The safety exits are here and here and you push up to open.”
Learning the in’s and out’s of emergency procedures, riding safely and how the bus is equipped to transport students with special needs, Raquel particularly liked that the bus was fitted with seat belts.
“It feels safe,” she said, as Parham strapped her in.
But the rules of the bus weren’t the only things covered on Saturday, parent workshops, safety activities and bike safety obstacle courses also made up the fair, offering parents and students hands-on opportunities in learning about safety measures at Rialto school’s. Rialto fire, police and other community agencies were also on hand along with other vendor booths.
The inaugural event was spearheaded by the district’s Safety Department in an effort educate parents and students on what Rialto schools are doing to ensure safety in and around campuses, especially now that classes are back in session, said Rialto school district’s safety chief, Gordon Leary.
“The goal here is to build a safe village for our students,” Leary said.
In order to have such an environment, parent and community partnerships must be created, Leary added.
“That’s what we’re doing here, bringing in the necessary resources that will not only help teach safety, but help keep our children on the safe path.”
While Saturday’s event was aimed at elementary-aged students, there are plans to expand future safety fairs to middle and high schoolers, added Leary.
“We wanted to spread the message to the young ones first,” he said. “But we are planning for this as an annual event–bigger and better.”
Yazmin Alvarez is a reporter with Inland Empire Community Newspapers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.