Phoebe Hay’s favourite 10th birthday present benefited her entire community.
The Maheno School pupil filled out a colouring-in competition at the Wanaka A&P Show last year to win a ‘‘Think Safe Brain’’ campaign day for her school, with Gurt and Pops author Harriet Bremner.
Phoebe (now 11) found out she won the competition on her 10th birthday, making it her favourite present.
Last Friday, after two failed attempts thanks to Covid-19, Maheno and Five Forks Schools came together for the safety day at Maheno School.
Different stations, including Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Police, Network Waitaki, PGG Wrightson, had representatives teaching the 106 school pupils about farm safety, to look after themselves, and their families, physically and mentally.
Activities included tractor blind spots, learning how to correctly tie things down and use fire extinguishers, and completing fun obstacle courses.
Phoebe said she was ‘‘pretty excited’’ about the day and looking forward to meeting Pops, a miniature dachshund, who is the star of Miss Bremner’s children’s books about farm safety.
But Phoebe also took on board the safety messages and learnt how farm accidents occurred.
‘‘It’s to tell people how to act and what to do with farm accidents. If people don’t talk about their mental health, they [can] lead up to accidents,’’ Phoebe said.
Miss Bremner has made teaching children, and adults, about farm safety her focus. Her partner, James ‘‘Bob’’ Hayman, was killed in a farm accident in the Hakataramea Valley in 2017.
Since then, Miss Bremner has written three children’s books, Bob ‘n’ Pops, Be Safe, Be Seen and Use Your Voice, to teach children, and adults reading to children, about farm safety.
The event at Maheno School served the same purpose, she said.
‘‘We’re wanting the children to not only learn, but also to teach the adults and remind them that what they do every day is actually dangerous,’’ Miss Bremner said.
The day provided a practical and fun ‘‘spin’’ to health and safety.
‘‘Because what’s been done in the last 10 years has been very factory-focused — and that doesn’t work on farms.
‘‘It’s creating generational changes and behaviour when it comes to keeping people safe, from everything from their mental health to physically keeping themselves safe while they’re out at work, and going home to their families alive at the end of every single day.’’
She described the children as ‘‘great country kids’’ who were all excited to meet Poppy, as she added the novelty factor.
‘‘It’s great to see everybody engaged.
‘‘It’s just really cool to see them having practical conversations and I can just about guarantee the next time some forks are left up on the tractor in their yard, they’ll be the first to say ‘You can’t leave them like that because they could fall on someone’s head if they fall underneath it’.’’
Maheno School principal Stella Macrae said it was a fantastic event for the schools and encouraged the children to think differently about farm safety.