Lindsay Peyton
Outreach instructor Ha Na Park gave student Natalia Baquedano-Lagos a high five for learning about 9-1-1 today. 

Learning how to make a call that could save a life

King County teaches children at Southwest Youth and Family Services/New Futures all about 9-1-1

By Lindsay Peyton

It was an important lesson – wrapped in a fun package.

Emery, the 9-1-1 Emergency Penguin, wants children to know how, when and why to make a life-saving phone call.

The new, child-friendly character is part of King County’s program to make the first response hotline more accessible to the diverse communities surrounding Seattle.

Today, the county presented its seventh workshop at the Woodridge Park Apartments’ community center, located at 12424 28 Avenue South in Burien.

Children gathered around their desks and colored pictures of Emery, filled out activity sheets and took 9-1-1 pop quizzes. Teachers from King County set-up possible scenarios, asking students what to do if they called the number by accident and what reasons are there to dial.

Kayreen Lum, program manager III for the county, said creating a lesson that appeals to diverse populations was a high priority, especially since there are 170 languages spoken in area schools.

“King County is so very diverse,” she said. “We really needed to reach out.”

Lum said talking to young children was equally important.

“Kids as young as 3 have called and saved a life,” she said. “We encourage parents to teach them while they’re young.”

She explained that children need to know when to call 9-1-1 and what information to provide to the person who answers the line – especially how to describe where the emergency is located.

The students in today’s program were in the first and second grade – and are part of the Southwest Youth and Family Services/New Futures’ afterschool program.

Kate Elias, who serves as the New Futures site manager for the nonprofit, said the county had offered the same workshop at the SeaTac location earlier in the year.

“This was an opportunity to continue the partnership and make sure these kids had the access to this service,” Elias said.

She explained that most of the students the program serves are immigrants or refugees.

“They’re really ambassadors for their families,” she said. “They can bring this message back home.”

Whether children are home alone or serve as language interpreters for their parents, they can play an important role providing emergency responders with information, Elias said.

“We’re giving them the resources so they’re empowered and can help keep our community safe,” she said.

Southwest Youth and Family Services/New Futures operates out of its main offices at 4555 Delridge Way SW and three sites at apartment complexes – Arbor Heights and Woodbridge Park in Burien and Windsor Heights in SeaTac.

The nonprofit provides mental health, youth development and family support services to clients without charge.

“It’s all about community programs and family advocacy,” Elias said. “Our whole purpose is supporting kids and families, with a focus on education. We want to make sure they get what they need to be successful.”

She hopes that King County will return to present workshops to more students at their New Futures sites.

Lum believes the program will continue to grow – and that students will teach what they learn from King County to their siblings and parents.

Each student left with an Emery coloring book, stickers and informational pamphlets.

“It’s not just about what we’re doing today,” Lum said. “We hope they’ll take this information home to their families.”

For more information about Emery’s 9-1-1 All Stars program, visit www.kingcounty.gov/911.
To learn more about Southwest Youth and Family Services/New Futures – as well as opportunities to volunteer and ways to support the nonprofit – visit www.swyfs.org.

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