Carter County youth learn how to be responsible sitters

Published 9:53 am Friday, January 3, 2020

Young adults gathered at the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Center for the first Safe Sitter class of the new year. The class was not just about learning how to care for small children, however. It also helped prepare them for the rest of their lives.

Carter County Drug Prevention Director Jilian Reece said she and Ashlee Williams from the library have been putting on these classes since they went through the official training last year.

Reece said the idea came from her work with low-income families, many of whom feature teenagers having to raise their younger siblings.

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“They are learning life-saving skills,” Reece said. “This is just anybody who wants to have training.”

Participants learn skills like how to watch for safety issues in the household, how to administer CPR and other life-saving actions and more. They even got to learn how and when to seek out adult help if a situation gets out of hand.

If a child is choking, for example, it is imperative the sitter know what to do, how to do it, and be able to remain calm throughout the whole process. That is, in essence, what the classes teach.

“We are also going to talk about good things,” she said.

She said the class helps show how to interact with younger kids and how to encourage them in a safe environment.

Reece said they try to have one class per month, but she said they can schedule one any time if there is sufficient interest. Thursday’s class was special for students wanting an option while they are still on vacation from school.

“Monday, we had a class of 15 boys,” Reece said.

Both Reece and Williams received training of the official curriculum, which allows them to demonstrate CPR and other techniques like it. Participants can take booklets home with them in order to further study these tips and more.

“It was designed by pediatricians, but children helped out with it, too,” she said.

This way, she said, the material is easy to access in an emergency.

Those interested in participating can email Reece at Classes are $50 each, which covers a mid-class snack and all the necessary materials. Each class lasts roughly five hours, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.