OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to evaluate Children's Village, a life safety education facility for children. SETTING: The study took place in Washington County, Maryland, a rural county. METHODS: Eight elementary schools with 20 second grade classrooms (410 students aged 7 and 8) were selected to participate. Using a quasiexperimental design, tests were administered to two cohorts of children before (pretest) and after (post-test) they attended the Children's Village during 1993-4. Parent and teacher surveys were also completed after the program. RESULTS: Among children who attended in December 1993-January 1994, there was a significant improvement in average test scores between the pretest (58% correct) and post-test (78%). Among children who attended in April 1994, there also was a significant improvement in test scores between pretest (74%) and post-test (85%). Among parents, 70% reported that their child learned a great deal at Children's Village and 33% reported having made changes in their home as a result. The parent survey also revealed that 25% of children and 35% of adults did not always wear their seat belts, and 74% of children did not always wear bicycle helmets. Teachers' responses to the program were generally positive. CONCLUSIONS: Children's Village brought together an extensive network of community leaders, parents, and teachers dedicated to safety education of children. The curriculum had a positive impact on children's knowledge and, to a lesser extent, on parents' safety practices. Program impact could be enhanced by more emphasis on automobile restraints and helmets (behaviors that parents reported were not consistently practiced) and by expanding the village services to parents as well as children. Others considering creating similar programs need to identify community leaders willing to commit the time, effort, and resources required to develop and sustain such programs.
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