Authorities aim to save lives with 'A.S.K. Day'
Local law enforcement agencies are taking action in hopes that a few simple questions might save area children's lives.
The Sanford Police Department, along with the Lee County Sheriff's Office and Sanford Fire Department, is hosting an A.S.K. Day Celebration — offering activities for families while promoting gun safety — Friday at Depot Park in downtown Sanford.
A.S.K. Day is a national initiative of the Center to Prevent Youth Violence, and parents will be reminded to secure their guns, said Sanford Police Officer Keiomi Evans, who is coordinating the event. It's particularly important, she said, during the summer months when children are home from school and more likely to be visiting a neighbor's home.
If a child goes to visit a friend's home, parents should ask if there is a gun in the home and whether it is secured, she said.
"We are hoping parents take away the significance of locking and securing their guns so there are no more accidents," Evans said.
Mylissa Bellamy, founder of the Matthew Bellamy Project, is scheduled to speak at the event along with a Sanford family who lost a child to accidental gun violence. Bellamy's son was accidentally shot by a friend with a gun that was loaded and unsecured. The organization partners with law enforcement officers to prevent such accidents and promote gun safety, especially around children, Evans said.
Lee County Sheriff Deputy Dana Elliott said the sheriff's department plans to hand out coloring books about gun safety along with gun locks to parents.
"If they do have firearms, [we hope] they take a gun lock and they use it and they put it somewhere safe," the deputy said, "And hopefully, by doing that, we can cut the risk of kids being harmed by weapons in the home."
The afternoon event will feature games, face painting, food, haircuts and a bounce house free of charge provided by local businesses, Evans said.
During Sanford City Council's meeting Tuesday, Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive proclaimed Friday as "A.S.K. Day" and encouraged Sanford and Lee County families to participate.
WANT TO GO?
What: A.S.K. (Asking Saves Kids) Day celebration, with the Sanford Police Department, Lee County Sheriff's Office and Sanford Fire Department.
When: 3-9 p.m. Friday.
Where: Depot Park, located in downtown Sanford.
Cost: Free to the public. Law enforcement officers will distribute free gun locks to families and other prizes for children.