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K-9 Units And White County Writer Promote Child Safety Program

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
K-9 Units And White County Writer Promote Child Safety Program

White County Sheriffs Department, City of Sparta K-9 handlers and a local children’s author have launched the Hug A Tree program to teach children how to stay in place when lost.

K-9 Handler Jake Simmons said this life-saving instruction is one that many people do not know.

“Because you can’t call an area clear if your person is still moving,” Simmons said. “And so one of the easiest fastest ways for us to find someone is if they just stop. And Hug a Tree comes in for children just so that they settle in and they stay in one place.”

Simmons said that the White County and Sparta Police K-9 Units had joined with local author Sandra Ayers to share this message through presentations to the public.

Ayers recently published Tommy Tractor and Officer Charlie: Hug a Tree Lesson. Simmons said they use the book to help adults and children understand children should stay in place when they are lost.

“We try to get out as often as we can and share that story with the children of Tennessee,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the team gave their first presentation at Manchester Library. He said to demonstrate the speed at which a dog can locate someone, they had a librarian hide in the woods.

“There was probably a hundred kids there,” Simmons said. “And for them to see how quickly the dogs can find an adult, I think they really grasp the concept. And we talk to them and give them an opportunity to ask question.”

Simmons said thankfully they have not had any children missing to use the Hug a Tree method since they started the program.

“I think the story is really helpful,” Simmons said. “And it’s very simple thing to remember when you’re lost if you just stay still, we’re going to come looking for you. And it’s a lot easier to find you if you stay still.”

The team is currently in the process of obtaining non-profit status with an intention to launch more educational materials and presentations.


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