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50 years of partnership

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey, NCSC Area Safety Director Kim Hiscox, Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening and Worthington School Resource Officer Bob Fritz discuss the upcoming curriculum for safety materials Wednesday at the law enforcement center.

WORTHINGTON -- It started when a group of people realized how many children were getting hurt and dying of accidental causes and grew to become the largest non-profit organization dedicated to the safety of children.

Information from the National Child Safety Council (NCSC) is utilized by more than 6,000 public safety entities in the United States, including the Worthington Police Department and Nobles County Sheriff's Office.

Dan Hiscox originally initiated the community service project with former Nobles County Sheriff Dale Peters. On Wednesday, Dan's daughter, Kim Hiscox, met with Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening, Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey and Worthington School Liaison Officer Bob Fritz to discuss the organization's 50th year of child safety and crime prevention training efforts.

The NCSC is best known for its Missing Children Milk Carton program, which later led to the printing of missing children pictures on grocery bags and other everyday items. Another specialty of the NCSC -- one which local law enforcement agencies make use of -- is the educational materials.

"I just gave out a bunch of them about Halloween safety on Monday," Fritz said. "I use the materials all year round on different topics."

NCSC covers a large range of safety issues, from school bus, bike and gun safety to crime and violence prevention. Last year, the safety campaign focused on Internet safety. This year, bullying will be the prime focus.

"They really cover all aspects of safety," Cumiskey stated. "And it's not a stagnant program -- they have kept pace with the times and what society is doing."

Kim Hiscox, the NCSC area safety director, said the organization has a research and development department that uses educators, artists, writers and technicians to create hundreds of original books, games, audio tapes, DVDs and stickers to compile current and authoritative information that is educationally correct, age appropriate and appealing to children and adults.

The coloring books on a variety of subjects are sought after at the county fair, according to Fritz and Wilkening.

"Kids and parents love the pamphlets. I keep a box with different topics in my car," Fritz added.

Fritz is currently working on a curriculum about bullying for fifth-grade students, but also wants to bring the same kind of information to the younger kids. Worthington School District 518 has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying, he said.

NCSC gears lessons and activities toward several age groups, even providing brochures and information for adults and seniors on an assortment of topics -- including bullying.

Wilkening said the gun safety materials are very popular at the fair, and that parents and daycares are eager to receive the coloring and activity books that deliver a safety lesson. There are also materials about sheriff and police departments to let children know what law enforcement officers do and why.

"We're very proud to be able to offer this caliber of materials for use," Hiscox said.

The safety materials are provided for all of the elementary, middle and high schools in Nobles County, including parochial and home schools, she added.

Because NCSC is a non-profit organization, local businesses are asked each year to sponsor a subject or grade level.

"We do it at $2.64 per student, which is very inexpensive," Hiscox stated. "The program for each county is custom designed."

More than 50 Nobles County businesses and groups sponsored NCSC materials in the past year, and the organization is looking for sponsorship this year.

"Anyone who would like to contribute can drop off donations at the law enforcement center," Wilkening said. "Just let us know it is for the safety council, and we'll get it to Kim for purchase of materials."