National Safety Town Center
Overcame Nine Challenges that
Almost Stopped the Program

Many people believe that Safety Town would not be existence if it were not for the dedication and persistence of- Dorothy Chlad. That’s a strong statement but after reading the following information and other material throughout this web site – we think you will agree. She was and still is Safety Town’s #1 promoter!

Let’s start from the beginning. Chlad’s original concern, in 1963 as a nursery school teacher, was to obtain safety education material for her children. Her constant inquiring led her to Mansfield Oh where she was informed that a traffic program – Safety Town – was started by a police officer – Frend Boals -in 1937 to help children get to and from school safely.

After one year of meetings with appropriate personnel in her school district, she organized and instructed a similar program in – Bedford OH – 1964 – based on a 10 page pamphlet she received which contained, theme of the day, color sheets, songs and games. Upon completion of her first session of 20-hours, she was very disappointed in the lack of safety education material.

She asked her Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Frank H. Brown, if she could include all aspects of safety. He said “it’s your program – do what you think is best for the children”. That was all she needed to hear. She began observing children from “wake up to bed time” and constantly asking “what can we teach them to help prevent accidents”.

As a result of a year of research, she developed a comprehensive curriculum which contained information on poison, fire, playground, toy water, animal, stranger, train, bus, etc. (This became a 60 page manual) Since there was very little preschool safety education material available, she created her own material.

In 1965 – this comprehensive program – was introduced which included a 15-minute parent/child session at the end of each day and a questionnaire for parents on graduation day. The children attended for 2 hours per day for 2 weeks, the summer before entering kindergarten so they could learn prior to encountering situations, such as boarding the school bus, identif’ing the safety patrol guard, proper procedures for playgrounds, etc.

The response was overwhelming successful! The children enjoyed” learning through their own involvement” and the parents were pleased. The local media was responsive and a 5-minute Cleveland television coverage resulted in 30 inquiries from nearby communities.

During the next 3 years, Chlad voluntarily presented organizational meetings to local communities and assisted program personnel with curriculum material. She continued meeting with pediatricians, preparing appropriate information and developed real life teaching techniques for individual involvement. Her concern was – child development as relates to safety capabilities.

CHALLENGE #1 – 1968

Due to the increasing number of requests, Chlad felt an existing organization should take over the program. She met with Cleveland Automobile Club safety personnel only to be told that Safety Town was a “dead” program. (The AAA and Veterans of Safety promoted the traffic program during the early years, 1937- 1964 and it was not well received.) After Chlad explained her comprehensive program, she was told to conduct a 2-year study to “prove the program successful”. She agreed. 

In 1970 Chlad came prepared with positive, successful results with names of communities, personnel, dates, times, meetings, locations, questionnaires and letters from over 20 local communities. Unfortunately, she was told they could not sponsor because her program contained more than traffic safety and the AAA was an automobile club. While that made sense to Chlad, she was discouraged but determined to find a sponsor.

CHALLENGE #2 – 1970

Shortly after, she contacted The Greater Cleveland Safety Council regarding co-sponsor with the Cleveland Automobile Club. After several meetings, the Safety Council was agreeable but the Automobile Club was not. Her determination grew stronger to find a sponsor.

She continued to provide assistance and material to any community, which now included nearby states. She made a “deal” with each community – “I will voluntarily come to your community IF you promise to assist another community when you are organized”. 

Chlad was advised to contact her Congressman William Minshall to investigate the possibility of federal sponsorship. She did. Her request was for an office in any building where anyone in the country could write for information in organizing a – Safety Town in their town. (response is later – 1972)

CHALLENGE #3 – 1971

After two years of meetings with National Safety Council, Chlad was invited to give a presentation at the National Safety Congress in Chicago. The title given her was “A Second Look at Safety Town”. She asked “why”. They stated “no one would attend unless they used that title, because they considered the original Safety Town a “dead” program. (Here we go again!) 

Over 100 people attended her presentation, which included a 15-minute (16-mm silent homemade movie) which she narrated. The first comment from the floor was from a representative of the Maryland Department of Education. “Young lady what you have is an educational program. We suggest you change the name of your program, not refer to Safety Town, if you want this program to be successful”. WOW! 

Chlad’s response “1 appreciate your comments; however I think it is unfair to change the name of a program that was started in 1937 by concerned people who did what they taught was best for the children. We cannot judge that program, when there ware no classes to train personnel and no materials, to our educational standards of today. Even now there are no courses for child development safety classes”. 

While she was discouraged, she was pleased with the many supportive comments and encouragement she received and determined to continue to search for a national sponsor.

CHALLENGE #4 – 1972

Three Florida State Department of Education officials attended a presentation in Ft. Lauderdale FL with the intention of stopping the advancement of Safety Town., again based on those early years. Fortunately, after hearing Chlad’s presentation, mainly the educational curriculum, they approved and applauded her program. 

Also, this year, she received a negative response from Congressman William Minshall, regarding her 1970 request. He suggested to contact the Ohio Department of Education. She did. After 6 months of meetings and a proposal, she was informed that state tax money was allocated for K-12 programs and NOT PRESCHOOL. 

Another rejection, but she always remembered a comment from a parent “share this program with children everywhere”. Her campaign continued.

CHALLENGE #5 – 1973

It was recommended to research the possibility of funding from corporations and foundations. Working with various individuals, proposals were written and sent to appropriate agencies. 

A major question they constantly asked “if the original program started in 1937, why are you now, in 1973, asking for funding”. They also required that some funds must be derived from local programs to fund a national center.

CHALLENGE # 6 – 1974

After years of research with pediatricians, child psychologists, safety and educational personnel, Chlad finalized the “Safety Town Packet”. (Six guide books, over 300 pages, which included organizational, teen instructor, curriculum, parent, general information and teen training.

Her activities greatly increased , mainly due to becoming a member of the Ohio Department of Highway Safety. This required promoting state events (safety belts, highway safety issues and meetings) plus touring the state to promote and establish the Safety Town program. 

Meetings were held between the Ohio Department of Highway Safety and the Highway Safety Foundation, a national organization, which agreed to sponsor a “national center” for Safety Town. HOORAY! 

A national telethon, sponsored by the Highway Safety Foundation, was planned for June 8-9, 1974 for 20 hours. (Chiad prepared the Safety Town script.) Sammy Davis Jr. was honorary chairman of the Highway Safety Foundation and would host the telethon, with other celebrities. After months of meetings in New York with several national reporters and telethon members every aspect was finalized. 

UNFORTUNATELY, in April the telethon was canceled and the organization dissolved. WOW! The worst was yet to come. 

The Wayne Corporation, placed a 4-page color ad in Nation Schools; Future (Jaycee) magazine and American School Board Journal offering a free “Safety Town Packet”. Over 2,000 requests were received. Regretfully, the magazine appeared a month prior to the telethon cancellation.

Having three choices, two of which would have destroyed Safety Town, the Chlad’s personally absorbed the print and mailing costs for the 2,000+ requests, thanks to a $8,000 loan. After several meetings, a grant was received from – Prudential Insurance – for organization funds for a national center. On April 29, 1974 – NATIONAL SAFETY TOWN CENTER – became a reality as a 501-C3 publicly funded non-profit organization. HOORAY – at last!

CHALLENGE # 7 – 1975

Funding was now a major problem. Chlad arranged a meeting, in Chicago, with the Veterans of Safety, an international organization. (They were knowledgeable about Safety Town since they were involved with the Cleveland Automobile Club during the early years.) 

After her presentation, she was “shocked” when told that reports from the CAC indicated that the CAC had done the work, not Chlad. A “heated” discussion followed for several hours. A member of VOS – Fred Pappenfuss – was appointed to obtain all information relative to the report Chlad submitted to the CAC in 1970. (She had to contact all individuals and obtain letters, newspaper articles and verity that she gave the presentations at their local meetings.) 

Discouraged was an understatement! But there was no choice, because she learned the VOS had the copyrights to the Safety Town program, which they documented. (Chlad also learned that three men in New Jersey were selling the program for $12,000) 

One year later, Fred gave a detailed report of Chlad’s work. The VOS members approved the report and after legal procedure, National Safety Town Center obtained the copyrights. 

Funding continued to be a problem. Corporation, foundations and banks had heard of that the Highway Safety Foundation was dissolved and would not provide funds or loans.

CHALLENGE # 8 – 1979

From 1972-1979 many trips were made to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington D.C. to obtain funding. There was no funding available for a national center; HOWEVER 402 FUNDING WAS AVAILABLE FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES, but they required a program evaluation which was necessary before any consideration. Chlad prepared necessary information under the guidance of – Dr. Joseph Coleman – during a 2 year period – 1977 to 1979. 

Part of their evaluation was visitation of a Safety Town program. After visiting a program, Dr. Dunn telephoned Chlad. He asked “why are you teaching motorcycle instruction to 5-year olds?” Chlad’s response was “that is not in our curriculum.” He then required a list of Safety Town programs that followed the curriculum – or a letter would be sent to each Governor’s Highway Safety Representative and police department – NOT TO INVOLVED IN THE PROGRAM.

Needless to say, a list was quickly prepared and sent to Dr. Dunn. All requirements were met and approved and finally – 402 funding became available – which has benefited many communities throughout the country.

CHALLENGE # 9 – 1980

This was an extremely difficult year due to many complicated factors which included corporations, foundations, government agencies and legal procedures. A registered, accredited and certified policy was implemented. 

Through the years, corporations and foundations rejected our requests for financial assistance because National Safety Town Center did not have sufficient funding from local Safety Town communities (A Yearly Operational Packet – was prepared requiring necessary materials to be purchased to meet the requirements for corporations and foundations.) 

Local programs wanted to be identified as a – certified 20-hour program Some communities conducted 1-lo hour programs – which were classified as – mini programs. 

The educational standards were set to comply with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Several attorneys prepared an agreement which was sent to every Safety Town sponsoring organization. UNFORTUNATELY, all this transpired within a few months, which caused misunderstanding due to lack of communication, mainly due in insufficient staffing.

This lead to much confusion causing some communities to disassociate with National Safety Town Center.

Click above to watch the video of our 1986 Cleveland, OH meeting.

1968 – told Safety Town “dead’ program, based on traffic program
1970 – more negative comments “do not refer to traffic program”
1971 – told to change name of program or it will not be successful
1972 – attempt to stop Safety Town if traffic program followed
1973 – refusal of funding requests
1974 – sponsoring organization dissolved
1975 – confrontation with VOS organization
1979 – NHTSA required list of approved programs
1980 – implemented RAC policy