Are you ‘LASER Hands On?’ Annual conference brings together safety education professionals from across the UK

Equipping children with the skills and experience they need to keep themselves and others safe is of a real benefit to society as a whole.

safety education

Providing a warm welcome at the LASER Alliance Annual Conference, from left, DangerPoint staff, Isobel Smith, Julie Evans, Cat Harvey and Hazel Firth with LASER Alliance co-ordinator Cassius Francis (centre).

This was a viewpoint shared by safety education professionals who gathered recently at the LASER Alliance Annual Conference, held at DangerPoint interactive activity centre in north Wales.

The LASER Alliance, hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and sponsored by the Gas Safety Trust, brings together a range of UK-based organisations and individuals that believe in children and young people “learning about safety by experiencing risk” (from where the acronym “LASER” is drawn).

DangerPoint proved to be the perfect setting for the event, which this year focused on issues relating to high quality practical safety education (HQPSE). HQPSE seeks to deepen children’s knowledge and understanding of risk competence and to develop skills appropriate to their age.

The centre presents children with a variety of safety scenarios in which they are required to actively “seek out” the best way of dealing with a situation and share their findings with their peers.

During a tour organised by centre staff on the day of the conference, delegates were given the chance to learn more about safety and risk from a child’s point of view in the following scenarios: in the home; on the bus; on the train; on the farm; in the countryside; at the beach; on the road. Areas of the centre are also dedicated to the topics of drugs, bullying, digital safety, shop safety, and electricity safety.

The beach safety learning zone during a tour of DangerPoint.

The beach safety learning zone was shown to delegates during a tour of DangerPoint.

There were plenty of engaging and interactive games to grab your attention, from learning how to cross the road at a dummy traffic crossing to remembering how to stay alert in and around water. Each zone is designed to help educate the community in essential life skills and a group of highly trained rangers are on hand to engage with visitors, some of whom are bilingual.

Also adding a splash of colour to the day were pupils from Middlewich High School, in Cheshire, who gave a lively performance on how to stay safe on the internet, with help and guidance from Konflux Theatre. Their “Click Safe” internet drama revealed the potential pitfalls of striking up online friendships with strangers and guided the audience through a checklist of what to do if they are being bullied online. Delegates were hooked by the pupils’ thought-provoking messages which they displayed through drama and the group received a round of applause at the close.

Meanwhile, young people from the Salford Foundation ran a workshop on a project they helped to organise through the National Citizen Service, aimed at delivering safety messages to older people in their community. The group revealed their reasons for joining the NCS, from building up their confidence to becoming more mature and learning how to work with other people. One 17-year-old boy said that delivering a presentation to the older community using RoSPA as a source of the safety messages had not only been beneficial, but had also helped to break the perception of teenagers having a “bad reputation”.

internet safety teenagers

Pupils from Middlewich High School perform their “Click Safe” internet drama.

A variety of workshops were held throughout the day, each of which was designed to share best practice and encourage lively discussion. Leading the workshops were safety education professionals from RoSPA, DangerPoint, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, DRS Safety and Brockenhurst College. Guest speeches were also given by RoSPA’s deputy chief executive Errol Taylor on public health and HQPSE and Marcus Bailie, head of inspection at the Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS), on adventure, young people and HQPSE.

Some interesting topics were raised; including RoSPA’s uncovering of fresh evidence surrounding “years of life lost” – a measure of premature mortality – and the importance of encouraging children and young people to identify hazards early on through participating in adventure activities.

The LASER Alliance aims to lead the way in practical safety education and it is through being “hands on” that we hope children and young people will be able to feel confident enough in themselves to know what is and isn’t a safe decision; think about the benefits of risk taking as well as the harms; say when they feel unsafe; and demonstrate their ability to keep themselves and others as safe as necessary no matter where they may be.

Cassius Francis, LASER Alliance co-ordinator and RoSPA’s youth liaison worker

One Comment to “Are you ‘LASER Hands On?’ Annual conference brings together safety education professionals from across the UK”

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