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Babysitting boot camp offers lessons in safety

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS — Every caregiver needs a little coaching. That’s what drew 12 girls to a babysitting camp during their summer break.

For young teens, babysitting can be a good source of income and a good lesson in responsibility. But what about emergency situations? What if a child chokes, gets sick or needs medical attention?

“We really focus on safety, safety, safety,” said Sherie Neely, program manager and training manager for continuing education at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Rising 10thgraders from two counties took part in the babysitting camp, held Monday and Tuesday at the college’s North Carolina Research Campus location.

They learned about how to take care of young children and how to keep a cool head during an emergency.

The students were trained by both the Red Cross and by the college’s own early childhood education department. And by the end of the camp, the girls were bundled off with a head full of fun ideas and a Red Cross babysitting certification.

Neely said Red Cross trainers came Monday and taught students the Heimlich maneuver, first aid and how to change a diaper. On Tuesday, the girls created their own stories for children and learned about behavioral techniques and simple crafts they could do with their charges.

Four students were sponsored by the Cabarrus Health Alliance’s TRAIL program — a federally funded project meant to decrease teen pregnancy. Jordan Melton, program coordinator, said the health alliance has been working with the students all year. Studies have shown that keeping kids active during the summer increases self-esteem and decreases the chances a teen will make bad decisions.

“We’re just all coming together,” Neely said of the multiple partnerships.

Tuesday morning, students spent time creating children’s books. Jeannie Morgan-Campola, chairwoman of early childhood education, walked them through the writing process for younger children. It’s not like writing a novel for people their age, she said.

“It’s going to be a little bit — more different because you’re writing a story for an 8-year-old,” she told the class.

After they’d brainstormed ideas, the girls set to work creating their books.

Alexis Chapman said she was writing her book about gymnastics. Her reason for attending babysitting camp was purely practical.

“Sometimes in the mornings, I watch my little sister,” she said.

A family friend asked recently if Alexis would be willing to watch her child. So it was nice to learn how to properly feed and change a baby, she said.

Lindsay Wolford said her story is about a hippopotamus and a crocodile who have to learn to share the same pond.

Lindsay said she wants to have a career in child care.

“I want to work with kids and help them have fun,” she said.

The babysitting camp is a step in that direction. She said she enjoyed the Red Cross’ lesson on infant care and emergencies.

“It was really fun,” she said. “They gave you the real experience.”

While she hopes to one day have her own child care business, Lindsay said she also helps take care of her little brother.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College summer camps began Monday and run through Aug. 3. They are held at several of the college’s campuses in Rowan and Cabarrus counties. Visit www.rccc.edu/camps for more information.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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