Kids attend safety fair

After months of planning, a determined Girl Scout put on a successful safety fair earlier this month at Monterey Elementary School in San Bernardino.

The effort that went into organizing the event, attended by more than 600 students, earned Chelsea Ferguson, 16, the Gold Award, the highest achievement within Girl Scouts.

"It was a lot of work but it was worth it because I felt it really made a difference for the kids, forging a bond between children and adults that will last a lifetime," said Chelsea of Highland. "And on top of that, I get my Gold Award."

The Redlands East Valley High School student came up with the idea in the fall, when she realized students would benefit from such an event.

"The inspiration for the project was the lack of confidence kids have in the people that are there to help them," she said. "And the main goal was to teach kids how to live safely."

Her first challenge was getting her idea approved by the Gold Award Committee.

Once they gave her the go-ahead, Chelsea had her work cut out for her.

But with the support of the troop leaders she's had since kindergarten, Paula Palacios and Annie Calkins, she forged ahead.

The next approval needed was from Ernestine Landeros, the principal of Monterey Elementary, who was very supportive and quick to help with setting up the event, Chelsea said.

Together they set the date, and Victoria Morales, the school's vice principal, helped the eager Girl Scout with logistics such as scheduling.

With two months to go, it was time to really get things rolling.

Chelsea contacted as many safety-oriented organizations as possible.

After quite a few phone conversations, lots of messages and many e-mails, five organizations, including the California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and the San Bernardino Recycling Institute, were chosen to participate.

Finally it was time for the big day, and everything went off without a hitch.

Students from preschool through fifth grade checked out booths from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., creating a very full day.

"The kids loved it, because it was very hands-on," said Chelsea. "Now I can relax and look forward to getting my actual award in March.

"And who knows? Maybe this could even lead to a career one day in special-events planning."

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