Eddie Eagle says STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.
Sergeant Tony Ayers of the Lexington County Sheriff's Department in South Carolina is a big supporter of the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.
"I feel it is very important to teach gun safety to kids," Ayers said. "Hopefully I will speak to that one kid who will remember what I said and that will prevent a child from being shot."
There are two main reasons why he likes teaching Eddie Eagle's message:
Toy guns, like Air Soft, look identical to and function just like real firearms.
"Without the Eddie Eagle program teaching kids to not touch guns they could easily mistake a real one for a toy," Ayers said.
Second, not all kids have the opportunity to learn how to safely handle firearms and that they aren't to be played with if found. The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program steps in and makes sure all children know not to play with a gun if they find one.
Ayers always enjoys teaching the classes because of children's abilities to be so spontaneous.
"No matter how well you prepare you always get a humorous statement or really good question from these little kids," he said.
During a recent presentation at the Lake Murray Montessori School, one of the students kept disrupting the class by telling stories and had to be pulled to the side so that Ayers could continue. But when the question and answer segment came up at the end, the same student gave one of the most mature responses Ayers heard.
"I asked why don’t you point a gun you find at a friend’s house at each other," Ayers said. "He answered that you never know if it is loaded or real and that you should never point a gun at anyone. He said that even a toy gun can shoot something that can hurt somebody."
Ayers likes to get the kids involved in the presentation so that they will really remember Eddie's lesson. For example, he will state the number and the kids will respond with the step.
"I say number one and they say 'Stop'. I say number two and they say 'Don’t Touch,'" Ayers told us.
The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program has a lot of materials for kids, including stickers, coloring books and comic books. The easy message and fun way its presented have really gone a long way to making sure kids remain safe if they find a gun.
And thanks to people like SGT Ayers, the program has reached as far and wide as Eddie's wingspan, making its way to over 25 million kids since it began in 1988. With Eddie's message as strong as ever, even more students will learn how to protect themselves in the future.