NIPSCO's new Learning and Safety Center was officially welcomed into the community with a ribbon cutting on Friday afternoon. Local kids gathered with NIPSCO Chief Executive Officer Jim Stanley and other public officials to commemorate the occasion.
The Learning and Safety Center will be part of the Tri-Town Safety Village as a means to educate people on electric and natural gas safety. People from all over will have access to this valuable resource.
"Safety in general is very important especially when it comes to our products; gas and electricity. Those are great products to use, they have a lot of value, but you need to use them correctly and safely," Stanley said. "It's important for us to be part of the Safety Village because it gets kids at a young age and ingrains those safety measures into their minds, and they can carry that safety message back to their families."
The Tri-Town Safety Village is a not-for-profit organization that educates children about safety. This facility is an actual child-sized town that contains replicas of local businesses, a full size Survive Alive house and real railroad and street crossing areas. Children are able to come and learn about pedestrian and driving safety, drugs, and stranger awareness through classroom and field activities. To date, this is the largest Safety Village in the country and it is open to all of Northwest Indiana and the surrounding communities.
Around 7,000 kids came through the Safety Village last year and NIPSCO thought that this would be the perfect avenue to reach the young children and their families. With the help of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) and other entities, the building came to fruition.
"I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the tradesmen who came out here and donated their time to build the building that you are looking at." Bill Jarvis, Executive Director for the Tri-Town Safety Village said. "This is going to teach a lot of children a lot of important safety items."
After the ribbon was cut, all of the kids and their families gathered inside the Learning and Safety Center to watch some educational videos. Treats were handed out, and Holy Moley, Indiana 811's mascot came to help commemorate the occasion. The idea for the Learning and Safety Center was credited to Rick Calinski, NIPSCO Public Affairs Manager. He worked closely with Jarvis during the project.
"What a great opportunity and what a great piece to the puzzle this building is to what the Safety Village does," Calinski said. "It's really a great fit for us to be here...I can't say enough about how the community came together on our behalf and the Safety Village's behalf. I think we have a fantastic partnership and I hope we can continue to teach a lot of kids for a long, long time."
So many people were involved to make this project come to life. A plaque is being created soon and it will be displayed inside the building to thank and remember all who made this initiative happen. Also, students will be coming in from Lake Central Schools to paint a mural about utilities and safety on one of the walls in the building.
"This really adds to the great facility and offerings that are already here at the Safety Village," External Communications Manager Kathleen Szot said. "What's neat about this facility is that they created a kid-sized world. They bring in elementary school kids from all over Northwest Indiana and it's really approachable for them to learn about all sorts of safety. We're so proud that NIPSCO added another facility out here for the kids to experience."