Coalition creates friendly, safe environment for kids to meet, eat, play

Jay Hinton
Glen Rose Reporter
Kids gather on the Square on Fridays after school to play games and have fun with events sponsored by the Somervell County Safety Coalition and its community partners.
Walnut Street in the Downtown Square is closed of each Friday from 3:15-5:15 p.m. as kids gather events sponsored by the Somervell County Safety Coalition and its community partners.
Kids gather on the Square on Fridays after school to play games and have fun with events sponsored by the Somervell County Safety Coalition and its community partners.

GLEN ROSE — The students at Glen Rose ISD have developed a tradition of walking to the Downtown Square on Fridays after school to buy snacks and goodies from local businesses like Shoo-Fly, Pie Peddlers, Texas Treasures and others located there.

As the numbers continued to grow, officials with Somervell County, in collaboration with groups and businesses in the area, came together to develop and build relationships with the youth, and the Somervell County Safety Coalition — (SC)2 — was formed.

Since then, it’s only gained momentum, and more and more businesses and groups — including elected officials, schools, faith-based services, emergency response, state parks, local government, and health and social service agencies — have joined in.

“The Somervell County Safety Coalition was formed upon recognizing a need to unite key community stakeholders to come together with consistent messaging and programming on various public awareness campaigns,” said Kelly Harris, Somervell County tourist promotion and economic development director. “(SC)2 promotes and facilitates civic collaboration dedicated to creating safe, healthy, drug- and alcohol-free environments for our community.”

On Fridays during the school year from 3:15-5:15 p.m., Walnut Street in the Square is closed to allow for groups to set up activities as well as to allow safe passage to and from businesses and the courthouse, and it has been well-received by the students.

“Kudos to the youth of Glen Rose,” Harris said. “We have seen many respectful, engaged youth who have welcomed our presence and are receptive to our activities, often bringing new suggestions and ideas for fun things to do on the Square. Jenga, Gaga Ball, and Rope-the-Log have been an ongoing success. Very few communities’ youth get to create relationships with state park rangers, law enforcement and business owners.”

It would have been just as easy to push the kids away, but Harris said that wouldn’t have been healthy for anyone.

“Tourists comment on how neat it is to see such large groups of youth outside playing together and how they can’t wait to bring others to witness this unique gathering of students,” Harris said. “To push the kids away not only sends a message that they are not welcome in the community, but it may also hinder their trust in the public decision-makers.”

In addition to using it as a safe gathering place for kids, (SC)2 is taking advantage of the opportunity to teach life skills as well.

“We aim to support the development of responsible decision-making skills, so that our youth will make healthy choices in life and we hope to cultivate a body of respectful, engaged youth who will be future leaders of our community,” she said. “The local businesses have worked with the program in several ways to create an even more positive experience for all. Through all of the activity, we wish to plant seeds and show people the history, heart and hospitality of our community by all of us working together.”

Somervell County, Radiant Swim School, Dinosaur Valley State Park, Somervell County Fire Department, Somervell County Sheriff’s Office, Brazos River Authority and Goetz Physical Culture Center first joined forces under the umbrella in 2019 for April Pool’s Day where drowning prevention safety programming was provided for Glen Rose Elementary School in English and in Spanish, with information sent home to families, Harris said.

“After viewing the program’s success and realizing many hands make light work, we are focusing on building participation with new stakeholders,” she said. “By definition a coalition allows for participation and affiliation by anyone who wants to get involved and support our mission. So no need to be part of an official organization, if you have a passion to serve and support our mission, we can find a place for you to participate.”

(SC)2 is always looking for individuals with new skills to participate, so if you or your business would like to participate, contact Harris with Somervell County Tourism at (817) 564-4587 or Tracy Brown with (SC)2/Radiant Swim School at (817) 908-7077.

“This gathering of kids has created a sense of community with our youth and with (SC)2 that creates unique memories of our community through this program,” Harris said. “Businesses have been stepping up to support and engage the youth, even changing their business models on Fridays to account for the kids.”