Steamboat high school students trying to foster friendships between students, first responders
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When children in Shannon Forbes’ third-grade classroom grabbed their markers to create thank you cards for local first responders Friday, some of the children wrote down personal stories they’ll never forget.
One child added a note thanking EMS crews for helping a sibling when they broke a bone recently.
Others drew the Classic Air medical helicopter the children often see buzzing around Steamboat Springs saving lives.
“Thank you for saving lives,” one girl wrote next to a picture of a Christmas Tree.
The letter-writing activity was part of a broader project led by Steamboat Springs High School students Maddie Craigen and Ruby Hayes, who are trying to give children positive impressions of first responders at a time when negative interactions with law enforcement make headlines in other parts of the country.
“I really just wanted to give back to the community and show these kids these guys are on your side, and they would risk their lives for you,” Craigen said.
The program at Soda Creek started Friday with a classroom visit from Steamboat Police Chief Cory Christensen, Fire Chief Mel Stewart and other officers and firefighters.
“We had a very fun morning with the third-graders,” Christensen said. “Maddie and Ruby are very impressive young ladies and we were humbled that they thought of us to be a part of their program. … We have great kids here in Steamboat Springs.”
Children got to play with handcuffs and learn more about the people behind the badges and the uniforms.
“The officers we had come in were outstanding with the kids,” Craigen said. “We really feel it made an impact. The kids were saying ‘these were our friends’ at the end.”
Craigen and Hayes said they hope their project helps some children feel more comfortable to reach out to law enforcement if they need to later in life.
The third-graders ended the program by decorating gingerbread cookies for first responders just in time for the holidays.
“If we do change just like this, making cookies and telling them about first responders, it educates them in a positive way before they get pulled over for a speeding ticket,” Hayes said.
They also said in their project outline they wanted “to show how big of a difference the little things can make, such as saying thank you, and why recognizing and appreciating heroes is important.”
Craigen and Hayes said their project wasn’t a class requirement at the high school, but rather something they personally wanted to do.
“When Maddie reached out to me and said we should do this, I was all in,” Hayes said.
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