VALDOSTA -- A one-day class designed to provide comprehensive instruction about babysitting for boys and girls between the ages of 11-13 is quickly filling up. Those who wish to attend South Georgia Medical Center's Safe Sitter program this summer must register for either the July 16 or July 30 session.

Andrea Cole with SGMC's Community Health Promotion said participants will learn basic babysitting skills as well as procedures to follow in case of an emergency.

"We role-play during some of the modules and play games to make it interactive and fun," she added. "Children also learn choking rescue skills."

The class, which begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. each day, is limited to 16 participants. The cost is $25 and includes lunch and a babysitting manual and backpack that program graduates are encouraged to take to every babysitting job.

T-shirts are available for an additional cost of $10.

"I feel the program has been successful," Cole said. "All of our classes fill up, and we usually have a waiting list. I've had Safe Sitter graduates come up to me after they've taken the class and have been babysitting and tell me how helpful it was."

SGMC has offered the Safe Sitter program to area preteens and teenagers for about eight years. It's a service Cole said the medical center staff enjoys making available to the community.

Safe Sitter was founded in 1980 by Indianapolis pediatrician Dr. Patricia A. Keener after a nurse's 18-month-old choked to death while under the care of an adult sitter. Realizing the vulnerability of young children when cared for by unprepared child care providers, she developed the program.

Safe Sitter is taught in all 50 states and England and provides an opportunity for participants to acquire rescue skills, basic first aid training, and nurturing, safe child care techniques. It has been recognized for excellence by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Safe Sitter's mission is to improve "the welfare of young children by increasing the availability of young adolescents instructed in safe and nurturing child care techniques."

Advance payment and registration is required for the program. Participants may remit payment to SGMC Marketing, 2906-D N. Patterson St., Loch Winn Office Park, Valdosta, GA, 31602.

For information, please call 259-4141, ext. 1.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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