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Getting children engaged in building safety


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 The future of building safety offers exciting career opportunities for the next generation. The International Code Council encourages educators to involve kids in discussions about the industry from an early age, fostering open-mindedness and offering them a new perspective on the world around them.

Inspiring young minds with interactive learning

Building safety awareness can start early if implemented in a fun, productive way that captures children’s interest. Parents and teachers can turn to interactive tools such as LEGO blocks and stickers to make the concept more approachable, accessible and engaging for young minds. During Building Safety Month, the Code Council creates materials specifically for this purpose, an annual campaign highlighting modern building codes and standards’ crucial role in ensuring public safety, including Junior Building Inspector stickers and hard hats.

Linking these tools to other educational materials can help bridge the gap between the activity and understanding building safety. Incorporating stories relating to the children’s daily lives can simplify complex concepts, while props and visual aids, like themed toys, can heighten engagement and enrich the experience. The Code Council employs this approach through its mascot, CODiE the Cheetah.

That’s why Pete Roque, director of code enforcement at 4LEAF, wrote the children’s book “Code Enforcement Officer Lucas Cleans Up Our Street” with his son. The book introduces young readers to code enforcement while providing insights into how blight and substandard structures are dealt with daily.

Rachel Patterson, senior code enforcement officer for the City of Westminster, Colorado and secretary of the Code Council Colorado chapter, leverages Roque’s book as part of her curriculum, combining it with squishy building safety toys. “Using visuals, you can communicate with the kiddos in a way they can appreciate.”

Patterson aims to tell more stories about building safety through her animated series, “Fiona the Fox,” which she developed with Roque. The series aims to inspire kids to understand and appreciate building safety and to consider what it means to be a good neighbor.

Building safety education resources

As children grow, the approach to building safety education should develop with them. The Code Council has developed numerous programs to educate kids of all ages. The Technical Training Program offers high school students and aspiring young professionals an early start and a competitive edge. The “I Built This” series and Safety 2.0 programs also offer high school outreach and training resources, respectively. The Code Council’s Building Safety Month Kids Corner provides interactive resources for younger students, including an activity book. Completing these exercises earns kids a certificate as a Junior Code Official.

For older kids and teens interested in building safety and construction careers, there are hands-on programs to explore. The ACE Mentor Program of America connects high school students with design and construction industry experts. “The students actually get exposed to every aspect of the construction and building safety industry,” says Diana T. Eidenshink, president of the program. “Part of their exposure is learning about fire protection, the sprinkler systems, and ensuring there are emergency exit protections.”

By making building safety education interactive, relatable and age-appropriate, future leaders can be inspired to uphold and advance the standards that protect us all.

To learn more about careers in building safety and discover how to get kids involved in building safety, visit the Code Council’s website at iccsafe.org.