Friday, May 23, 2014

Lakewood Ranch Elks help Freedom students stay safe from strangers

From left, Joanne DiCarlo, Darlene Jenny, Kay Thorson, Kathy Dattilo, Kay Ogren, Rick Thorson, PER, Barbara Blackwell. Also with the group is Brenda Zofrea, the author of the program.
Seven Elks from Lakewood Ranch-Sarasota Lodge #2855 recently read a book titled "Let’s B Safe" to first-graders at Freedom Elementary School in East Manatee.

The Let’s B Safe program teaches children about the dangers of going with strangers who might be sexual predators. Because the main character of the book is a bee, each child received not only a copy of the book to take home but also received a plush bee.

"Often a child who has been abused is either ashamed or frightened and unwilling to tell a responsible adult what has happened to them," said Rick Thorson of the Elks in an email to the Herald.

"We teach the child to confide in the bee and then let the bee tell the adult what has happened to them. Last year alone there were three 'exposures,' so the program works well."

The lodge applied for and received a Gratitude Grant from the Elks National Foundation to purchase the books and the bees, Thorson said.

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