About the Children’s
Safety Education Village
~ 2695 Rte. 394, Ashville, NY ~
The mission of the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village is to promote the well-being of children through adulthood by providing a wide-range of experiential safety training and services.
Our vision is to make our communities safer through education.
- Engagement – We are welcoming, flexible and inclusive – we deliver safety programming that meaningfully addresses the need of all community members.
- Being Cutting Edge – We strive to be the best by offering creative, exciting and fun learning experiences that meet ever-changing demands.
- Trust – We model positive behavior in our interactions with program participants and partners. We are honest and transparent in our words and deeds.
- Integrity – We are good stewards of community resources and can be depended upon to provide the highest quality trainings and services in keeping with best practices.
- Impact – We make a difference in the lives of individuals, families, organizations, and communities by offering the knowledge and the skills needed to stay safe.
The Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village began in 1996. A group of members from the Sertoma Club of Jamestown visited the Waterloo Safety Village in Canada. They were so impressed with it, they brought the idea back to Chautauqua County. They approached Sheriff Joe Gerace about starting a similar village in this area. Sheriff Gerace decided to look into the details. He too, was so impressed with the Waterloo Safety Village that he said, “we have to do something like this for the children in our community.”
They began by forming a board of local business men and women and became a 501C-3 organization. The members met every Thursday morning for years. Through the effort of a generous community, the village began to evolve. Twenty-six, 12′ x 24′ concrete slabs were poured on the 5-acre piece of property next to the Hewes Educational Facility in Ashville, NY. It was the beginning of what would take years to complete. Eventually, roads were formed between the slabs of concrete and later sidewalks. One by one, businesses began to take interest in this so-called “village”. Herman Kent Post 777 as the first organization to purchase a site and build a miniature building. Soon to follow was AAA and the Jamestown Chapter of Credit Unions. Since then, all 26 sites have been purchased with an additional site added for Jamestown Community College.
Over the course of 16 years, the Children’s Safety Village began to take shape. Now complete with buildings, paved roads, side walks, street signs, a railroad crossing, street lights, and a four-way traffic signal, the Safety Village is busy with children driving electric cars along its streets, pedestrians crossing the crosswalks, and bicyclists demonstrating their hand signals.
In 2009, the Children’s Safety Village received the TEP Grant. This was a $1.76 million federal grant awarded to build the Educational and Storage facility which houses all of the cars, bikes, and “Safety Village Express” train. Since opening in Fall 2010, over 26,000 children have visited the Children’s Safety Village.
Back row left to right: Cathy Abers Kimball, Amy Harding, John Felton, Joe Gerace, Heather Kerr, Marcia Restivo, Tony Raffa. Front row left to right: Doug Fricke, Angie Peck, Hyla Brinkley, Kristi Hull.
Board of Directors
- Joe Gerace – President
- Doug Fricke – Vice-President
- Hyla Brinkley – Secretary
- Amy Harding – Treasurer
- Angelica Peck – Board Member
- John Felton – Board Member
- Heather Kerr – Board Member
- Kristi Hull – Board Member
- Tony Raffa – Board Member
- Cathy Abers-Kimball – Board Member
- Marcia Restivo – Board Member
Safety Village Staff
- Jessica Dayton – Executive Director
- Diane Miraglia – Instructor