Photos by Laura Paton

The Coventry Substance Abuse Task Force and Coventry Public Schools held a first-ever event coined Safety Day last weekend, inviting children and families to learn about safety. ABOVE: Michael Leger sits inside a fire engine. 


COVENTRY — Local families flocked to the parking lot of Coventry High School Saturday to participate in Safety Day, a free, first-time event organized by the Coventry Substance Abuse Task Force and Coventry Public Schools.

“This was a great opportunity to get different components of the community together for the benefit of the families and the children,” Dana Deverna, coordinator of the Coventry Substance Abuse Task Force, said Tuesday. “It was an honor to be asked to put this together.”

The event offered all sorts of activities to occupy those who came out for it. 

Coventry firefighters spoke to curious children about their job, welcoming them aboard a ladder truck and teaching them about things like vehicle extrications. Police officers let them try on official gear, and offered tours of their vehicles. 

Helmets and reflectors were distributed to children in attendance; the Rhode Island State Police brought its Rollover Simulator for a demonstration aimed at encouraging road safety. There were balloon animals, food, giveaways, informational booths and a rock wall, set up by the National Guard. 

Deverna wasn’t sure on Tuesday of the exact number of residents who attended Safety Day, but around 75 free Child IDs were printed by New York Life, one of several community partner agencies that participated in the event. 

“We weren’t sure how the turnout would be, because it was our first year doing this,” Deverna said, “and it was a good surprise — the turnout was pretty good.”

Safety Day was the second in a handful of events being hosted this summer by the task force in partnership with the Coventry school district — there was also a family movie night held last Wednesday on Rice Field. 

The lineup of events stemmed from a conversation between the task force, whose mission includes reducing youth substance use, and Craig Levis, superintendent of Coventry Public Schools.

“He was talking about holding some free family events over the summer,” Deverna said, adding that they had wanted to offer a way for residents to gather safely now that the pandemic is winding down. 

The hope, she continued, was to create a fun atmosphere where families could mingle while learning more about the various community resources available to them. 

A third event — a “mini carnival” — will be held next month, on Sunday, Aug. 15 from 2 to 6 p.m., at Coventry High School. 

And beyond this summer, Deverna said she looks forward to organizing more free family events.

“I think greeting the community, and figuring out what they need and what they want, is a good way for us to move forward,” she said. “I think [Safety Day] was something that appeared to go over well.”

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