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Brains and trains focus of first-grade play day at the park

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Belinda Gimple, left, and other Pratt Pilot Club members use Brain Minder Puppets to teach brain safety tips to first-grade students at Sixth Street Park. Pratt first-graders also rode the PIlot Express train at the park.

PRATT — More than 100 first-grade students from Southwest Elementary School took part in a special Pilot Club play day this past Friday at Sixth Street Park in Pratt.

They came with their teachers to learn about brain health safety from Brain Minder Puppets. They also learned all about trains, parts that make them go and what engineers do, as well as how the Pilot Club supports the community.

The Pilot Club’s Kay Sewell said that each year the Pratt club has a special Brain Train day in April and then operates the Spook Express in October for Halloween. But those events did not happen this year.

"There will be no Spook Express this year because of COVID-19, so that's why we decided to have this special day for the first-graders," Sewell said. "We are hoping to have the Holiday Express in November, but wanted to give these children a chance to be part of our brain health information program."

Sewell, in her conductor's hat, was assisted by fellow Pilot Club members and their animal puppets Belinda Gimple, with an owl; Gina Hommertzheim, with a fox; Fay Kuhn, with a giraffe; Tammy Killough, with a monkey; Linda Parker, with a fish; and Samantha Divine, with a pig. They taught the children important safety facts to keep in mind to protect their brains while at play or at home.

When the puppet show was over, responses to the question “what did you learn?” rang out.

Be careful to not ever jump off the train, no touching hot stuff, and always wear a helmet when riding a scooter, bike or skateboard were some of the messages students relayed back to their instructors.

At the Chandler Train Station, children learned parts of the Pilot Express Train from Diana Harris while Darlene Hemphill told them what the Pilot engineer had to do as part of his job to safely drive the train.

The students brought their lunches and ate at the park after taking rides on the Pilot Express Train.

Members of the Pratt Pilot Club International meet twice a month for business and program meetings. The purpose of the Pilot Club is to come together in friendship and service and to plan special community projects.