Safety First This School Year

By September, the school year is in full swing. Us working parents experience the frenzy of getting our kids out the door, only to rush back to pick them up, get dinner on the table and tuck everyone in for the night.

We all expect and appreciate the education and socialization our kids gain from school, but the safety of our children supersedes all other expectations of our children’s educational institutions.

Central Ohio-based School Solutions Network provides innovative technology, accompanied with ongoing education and programming, to empower and teach students, staff and communities how to proactively reduce risk and appropriately address an issue when it arises.

We know resources are tight, threats are vast and needs are ever-changing in today’s world. Schools should not be alone in pursuing safety for students. Teachers are responsible for students’ well-being and education, but safety is a community responsibility. Educators, parents, law enforcement, local businesses, and all community members share this role.

School Solutions Network shared the following school safety tips that CBUS Dads thought were beyond worthy to share:

  • Open the the lines of communication with your child. Ask your child how they feel about safety in their school. Do they feel safe? Are there any areas they feel unsafe around and why? Do they know what to do in case of an emergency?

  • Identify the school officials/personnel your child can comfortably go to to report any concerns they may have (school counselors, hotlines, email accounts, suggestion box, etc.). Familiarize yourself with your school’s safety protocol and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  • Ask your school what policies and protocols are in place to ensure safe and secure surroundings at school. How do guests enter the building? Is the perimeter locked? How do parents arrange for their child(ren) to be picked up by someone other than a parent?

  • Find out what parents should do in case of an emergency at school. Where can you go to get accurate and up-to-date information from the school in an emergency situation? Will the school contact you? Who can you contact at the school? Where can you meet your children if you need to pick them up from school?

  • Enable tracking on your child’s mobile device to know your child’s precise whereabouts in case of an emergency (iPhone “Find My Friends,” location sharing, etc.)

  • Get involved in a school safety committee. If there isn’t one, or it’s not satisfactory, create change. Join your schools PTA/PTO or start a school safety committee yourself. Get involved to make school safety information accessible and look for ways to improve communication and protocols.

When connected, schools and communities are able to elevate one another by raising awareness, fostering safety and cultivating pride in our school districts. The “it won’t happen to us” mentality won’t help a school in the midst of an issue or crisis. As threats, strategies and technologies are constantly changing, schools must prepare themselves with the most up-to-date information and resources to ensure the well-being of their children, faculty and facilities.

Let’s strive to all take an active role in ensuring schools across central Ohio are as safe as they can be this school year and beyond. And, if you’d like to learn more about how you or your school can get involved in the School Solutions Network, click here.

-By Steven Michalovich, Regular Contributor

The Official Parent’s Guide to Independents’ Day

It is the end of an era. For a decade, the Independents’ Day team (which I am honored to be a part of) has helped cultivate creative collaborations and inspire the independent artists, musicians, business owners and leaders of Columbus. This weekend is the final showcase of this annual event, but don’t worry, we have much bigger plans for the future! It is time to strategically abdicate in an effort to make room and opportunity for the next round of creatives to take over.

What began as a fun little beer-fueled street fair back in 2007 has slowly become a vibrant multifaceted celebration of all things Columbus. Through the ID years, our community aged with us, and they, like we, now have children. The festival has adapted to this, but I don’t think we have done it justice by talking enough about how family-friendly we have become. Thus, below are my 10 suggestions towards a parent’s guide to IDX!

  1. kID. In the sixth year of the festival, Ashley Baker (now the 2017 chair of Urban Scrawl and a board member with the Franklinton Arts District), was pregnant and noticed that all of our old friends were pushing strollers and wearing kids on their chests (literally). She noted the calm atmosphere that supported it, but recognized the lack of programming. The following year, Ashley officially joined the leadership team, created a welcoming space behind the Idea Foundry, and started what would become our first festival within the festival. In its sophomore year, she stepped it up with more amenities and more diverse partners. This year they have partnered with Mt. Carmel to bring in a touch-a-truck with their mobile wellness set up. By square foot density, during its open hours, this has become one of the most popular places at all of Independents’ Day!

  2. The music. Everything about the music this year is special. Dereck Dupont and Patrick Locy created the rule for bands to be added that they needed to produce something new and unique. We have bands with choirs, symphonic pieces, projection screens, etc. And this starts at noon each day. Through the generous support of the GCAC, Columbus Foundation and neighboring community partners, we are honored to be able to pay our artists to perform. Bring headphones for the little ones because everyone will enjoy these parts of the party.

  3. The Taivara Trails app. From the folks who digitized the Columbus Coffee Trail and the Short North Art Walks we proudly present the official Independents’ Day app. Think of this as Pokemon Go for our festival goers. All you have to do is visit the mobile site, pick your team (good or evil) and enjoy the festival. By checking in at different locations and for special performances, you can earn points, which you can later redeem at the CD102.5 booth for awesome prizes. This game is fun for everyone, but best when shared with our little friends.

  4. Arrive hungry, leave satisfied. The Independents’ Day food team is amazing and the former food Lieutenant Shelley Mann (food expert, writer and organizer) is now the Captain of this year’s festival, so her team is holding no punches. In addition to the most highly curated line up of Columbus food trucks, they also have a special brunch and a tent in the center of the festival showcasing all things independently delicious.

  5. Speaking of delicious, retired Captain Jacob Wooten has come back with a vengeance over the past several years to create an incredible local drink land/beer garden. Along with wine and liquor, dozens of breweries are bringing their best. Always drink responsibly, have a DD, buy your wife/husband/partner/buddy something nice because some of these drinks will never be available again.

  6. Volunteer. Please set a good example for the minis, plus it is fun.

  7. Tortilla has partnered with EcoLyfe Designs to create a gigantic piñata. This is one of those things that we do not really understand yet, but are looking forward to the unveiling. From what I gather, EcoLyfe is building this giant pinata and anyone can paint it during the day on Saturday. Then on Sunday, it is going to be hoisted up and Walter from Tortilla/Loco Sweets is going to lead the children (and adult children) through an exercise to smash it, releasing hundreds of pounds of traditional Mexican candy and free taco coupons.

  8. Speaking of art things we do not really understand yet, our artists have paired up and created a giant drone-powered floating cloud. Yup! Really weird, perfectly Independents’ Day.

  9. New Americans. There will be a lovely small village. This village is made up of a dozen vendors from every corner of the globe that now call Columbus home. This initiative started at ID last year and has expanded its showcase at Comfest and Hot Times. Thanks to the generous support of Puffin Foundation West and leadership support of Gale Gray, this small section of the festival plot offers international vendors a chance to sell goods, mix, mingle, and collaborate. It is really a beautiful thing, and in a world where our kids are surrounded by negativity in the news, this is a great example of a united world in our own backyard.

  10. Seriously, go to kID. Ashley, Ryan, and their team have worked non-stop for the last three years to make the best festival for our next generation of rockers, rollers, artists, and leaders.

Bringing an end to this chapter is fairly bittersweet, but the opportunity to share it one last time with you and your families makes me extremely proud.

-By Wolf Starr, Contributor