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Eddie Eagle program


To the Editor:

I have received several inquiries about the Eddie Eagle program from Grosse Pointe News' readers since the Grosse Pointe News featured me as a Pointer of Interest last year and mentioned my involvement in the gun safety issue.

Our focus is, of course, on children and the material is age and grade appropriate. We can present to early elementary and on up to grade six or even older. We do also provide take-home material for parental use.

When I run an assembly presentation, I begin with an audience "warm-up" of the "Pledge of Allegiance," songs, jokes, etc. Then I show the seven-minute video which is in the semi-cartoon format starring Eddie and a teenage star the kids identify with. They stress the magic mantra: Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult! That is the heart of the program. Repetition is the method.

After the video, we do an audience participation segment. Kids answer questions, repeat the mantra, I use a felt board to teach who is a responsible-enough person to report to: a policeman, teacher or other school person, parent, etc.

We then bring on Eddie Eagle himself. He's in a wonderful costume, that cost $2,300, and he's "flying in from Washington" to visit their school.

Eddie never talks but I interact with him and he pantomimes the message: Stop!, etc. The kids are always delighted. He visits around the room, giving hugs, posing for photos, etc. We close with more singing and repetition of the mantra.

We then distribute the printed material: comic books, reading workbooks, and the adult-focused take-home pamphlets. We also have material for teacher use to follow up within the ensuing days in their own classrooms. Nowhere in the material is a gun or its use even shown or mentioned, only the safety message.

I realize that "gun control" is a serious issue and the National Rifle Association is anathema to many people. I regret that America seems to be becoming more polarized on the firearms issue.

I personally believe that total gun banning is an impossible dream just as I reject the position of some of my fellow shooters and hunters that people who are sincerely concerned about preventing gun accidents, weapons procurement by children and criminals, etc., are a bunch of extremists, bent on a police state.

Our Eddie Eagle program has one goal: saving children's lives from gun accidents and misuse.

Unfortunately and perhaps in some communities, inevitably, children will come across firearms lying about in their environments. We must train them not to pick up those guns and to get help.

We also strive to educate adult gun owners to keep guns out of the hands of unsupervised children and lock them up safely when not in use.

Every child must internalize the message: Stop! Don't Touch! Leave the Area! Tell an adult! I think it's "a possible dream."

William M. Rutledge

Grosse Pointe Woods

William M. Rutledge
Grosse Pointe Woods
June 16, 2004

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