12/20/2012
My Voice My Community
Staying Safe Can Take a Community

Mastery-Clymer, the Burn Foundation, and NID

Recently, the 1st – 4th grade students in Anne Daly’s Life Skills class at Mastery Charter School’s Clymer Campus in North Philadelphia welcomed a very special guest: Burnie the Bear. With the help of Burnie’s buddy, Scott Cohen, director of prevention education for the Burn Foundation, the students learned several important fire safety lessons.

“What do we do if our clothes are on fire?” Mr. Cohen asked the group. After a few practice runs, the students were able to respond with the appropriate actions to take. One little girl listed the steps as she walked Burnie through the motions: “We stop. We cover our eyes. Drop to the ground, and roll back and forth.”

The students in both classes learned critical safety information and practiced skills like “Don’t hide, go outside!” and “Stay low and go!” Mr. Cohen even gave them two homework assignments: count the number of smoke detectors in your house, and make a plan in case you and your family have to escape a fire.

For the students in the Life Skills classes at Clymer – which are divided into 1st-4th and 5th – 8th grade groups – fire safety and burn prevention aren’t abstract topics. Last spring, one of their classmates, Myana, age 7, was seriously injured in a house fire and spent several months in a burn unit. Though Anne has been working with her at home, it is still unclear when she will be able to return to school.

When NID and Mastery first began talking about working together to enrich the Life Skills curriculum at Clymer, both organizations knew that this partnership could be the beginning of a new way of teaching students with severe developmental disabilities. What we couldn’t have known at the time was how profoundly important NID’s relationship with the Burn Foundation would become.

Through this partnership, Need in Deed learned that the Burn Foundation offers recovery support to burn survivors and their families, including a free summer camp for children who have been burned. As their classmate prepares to return to school, the Burn Foundation will work with both Myana and her family and the students at Clymer to help them get ready to welcome her back and understand why she may look, feel or move differently than she did before the fire.

Mr. Cohen will return to Clymer for a total of four education sessions with each class, but will remain accessible to the students, their teachers and families throughout the year, and beyond. Through NID, the Burn Foundation was able to gain access to this vulnerable population to help ensure they have critical safety skills, and through NID, the Life Skills community was able to access the information, supports and services offered through the Burn Foundation. Through both of these organizations, NID was able to fulfill our mission of connecting the classroom to the community.