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Play teaches traffic safety to PS 31 students

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The performance by the actors used more...

By Kathianne Boniello

“Look, listen and stay alert” sang the actors from the Queens Traffic Safety Theatre to about 150 students and Borough President Claire Shulman at PS 31 in Bayside Friday. “That’s the best way to not get hurt.”

The performance by the actors used more than songs and funny stories to teach the 150 or so third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at the 46th Road school about traffic and pedestrian safety.

At one point during the show, the actors use a brain — made out of Jello in a plastic bag — to show how a child who was not wearing a helmet might get hurt. When the performers put the Jello brain in a helmet and dropped it, nothing happens. But when the brain was dropped without a helmet — splat!

PS 31 Principal Sonya Mobilio said the show’s demonstration of how kids could get hurt when they do not wear a helmet was an “incredible” example that made an impression on the students.

“That will last in their minds,” she said. “It was real for them.”

The Queens Traffic Safety Theatre, which is funded by a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, has performed for 12,000 students around the borough since Feb. 26, presenting songs and stories about what kids should do to stay safe while bike or scooter riding, rollerblading, crossing the street or riding in a car.

Shulman attended the show and afterward quizzed the students on what they learned.

“Did you enjoy the show?” Shulman asked the eager student audience, many of whom quickly raised their hands to answer her questions. “Boy, I learned a lot of things — put on your seat belt, always wear a helmet.

“I don’t do the rollerblading,” the borough president confided to her audience. “You know why? I don’t know how.”

Following a quick question-and-answer session with the students, Shulman praised the show for giving the children important information in an accessible format.

“They’re being taught a lesson, but they’re having fun learning about it,” she said. “It reminds them to keep themselves safe.”

Mobilio said the show was also a way for kids to talk about pedestrian and traffic safety in their homes.

“This kind of performance will cause them to go up to their parents,” she said.

Steven M. Hollow, director and writer of the show called “It’s Up To You,” said its message was that students should be accountable for their own safety.

“This teaches kids that the ultimate responsibility for their safety is with them,” Hollow said. “They cannot assume they are safe. The can’t just be along for the ride — they have to be another set of eyes.”

The director said he strives for humor in his shows because “if the kids are laughing, they are learning.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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