Participants in the NRA Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.) are encouraged to take what they learn about NRA programs and The NRA Foundation’s mission to Teach Freedom back to their communities. Active alumni like Alex Henry do just that by paying forward the positive impacts they experience during the program.
I began learning about the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program at the National NRA Youth Education Summit last year. Although I had heard it mentioned before, I never really knew much about it. At Y.E.S. we had the chance to watch presentations by NRA staff members from multiple NRA Foundation-supported programs. One of them was the Eddie Eagle program coordinator. After hearing her speech and participating in the Y.E.S. activities throughout the week, I wanted to introduce Eddie and his Wing Team to the students of my local elementary school in Prairie Grove, Ark.
When I returned to school in August, I began to work on this project. I first contacted the principals of Prairie Grove Elementary, Jonathan Warren and Brenda Clark, and set up a meeting with them. Then it was time to prepare the pitch. With my project partner Charles Graham—who worked alongside me through the whole thing—I immediately began creating a presentation for the two principals. On the day of the meeting, everything went wonderfully. Before I even got through the whole pitch, the principals were asking when I could do it. We decided it would be best to host the Eddie Eagle program in December to fit with teachers’ busy schedules.
Upon receiving confirmation of the dates and class size numbers, I began final preparations for the presentations. It took three days—plus 750 staples and nearly 5,000 sheets of paper—to print the activity booklets, letters to send home, and certificates for all 750 students. But the time and effort it takes to do the presentation is nothing compared to the incredible outcome you get. Once you do the presentations and the kids see the Eddie Eagle mascot, you’ve changed their lives. They will always remember the GunSafe® message of “Stop. Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grownup.”
After the presentation, I received so much positive feedback from the community. Parents were pleased that the school provided this safety lesson for their children. Teachers were thrilled with the quality of the presentation and how the kids actually paid attention. The principals were delighted to share this message with their school and with how easy it was to work with my crew and me.
"Our experience with Alex was good from start to finish,” said Principal Warren. “He was very prepared, very sensitive to his audience, and taught the students a valuable lesson. Alex presented his proposal to me with a well-thought-out plan of implementation. He was willing to make some minor adjustments where needed. He was also available to answer any questions we had. Finally, he did a great job with our kids. In all, it was a good experience for everyone involved.”
Of course, I couldn’t have done this by myself. I had help from numerous people: my project partner Charles Graham; my mascots Maya Dotson and Sydney Whitkanack; my EAST Facilitator Heath Whitley who allowed me to do this project; and all of the teachers and administrators of Prairie Grove Elementary who invited me in to teach their kids a valuable lesson.
I believe that the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program is one that every child should learn—the 750 kids I’ve taught are just a start to reaching that goal and continuing to spread the message of firearm safety in America.
To learn more about the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program and how to bring it to your community, visit eddieeagle.nra.org!