Free safety kits available for families with special needs kids

Staff Writer

Decatur Daily Democrat

    Bi-County Services and AWS Foundation, in collaboration with the Decatur Fire Department, will offer free Safety Kits to local families of children with special needs. The kits are designed to safeguard against wandering and other dangerous situations involving children with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
    Intended to assist family members and caregivers with prevention of — or help during — an emergency, safety kits are available daily between the hours of 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Decatur Fire Station located at 207 S. 7th St.
    “Kids with special needs can be prone to wandering, to place themselves in dangerous situations and are much more likely to be bullied than others,” said Tom O'Neill, AWS Foundation board chair. “The goal of this safety kit is to provide families with a variety of tools designed to help prevent a potentially harmful situation from occurring and to give them more resources if an emergency occurs.”
    The safety kits are [intended to protect children with special needs, who are among the most vulnerable members of the community. The kit is designed to address a number of safety concerns from wandering, bullying and seclusion to safety prevention methods, both at home and school.
    “The Decatur Fire Department is proud to be joining forces with Bi-County Services to help protect the children in our community with special needs,” said Decatur Fire Department Captain Jeff Sheets. “Besides responding to emergencies, educating the public is a top priority for our department. These kits have added another tool to our toolbox, to help protect our kids with special needs in our community.”
    Bi-County Services is always searching for ways to protect the people we serve and the Safety Kits developed by the AWS Foundation fit our mission perfectly. We are grateful to the Decatur Fire Department for their continued assistance and support.
    One of the biggest concerns expressed by caregivers who tend to people with cognitive problems is how to keep them safe. In children, wandering is a risk associated with many conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome and head injuries. A study by the Interactive Autism Network found that 49 percent of children with autism are prone to wandering from safety. A family may first become aware of wandering behavior when they are faced with the fact that a child has left the home, yard or their side unattended. Many children with a cognitive disability do not grow out of a tendency to wander as they enter adulthood. The Special Needs Safety Kit for Kids provides information and tools for prevention and help families to develop a safety plan should there be an emergency.
    Several items contained in the kit are produced by companies that employ individuals with disabilities and the kits were assembled by high school students with special needs as part of the Scherer Resources vocational skills training program. The program prepares students with special needs as they transition from the high school environment to work and community life.

    Bi-County Services, Inc. (BCS) is a not-for-profit company that provides services for special needs individuals living in Adams and Wells Counties in Indiana. We provide a variety of services including: Day Services, Sheltered Work Shops, and residential services. School age children and adults may participate in personal attendant care, Residential Habilitation Services, Community Integration and Music Therapy services

    Founded in 2007, AWS Foundation supports a wide range of organizations and service agencies in northeast Indiana working to develop a community in which people with enduring intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities are engaged fully and meaningfully in all aspects of community life. For more information, visit