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The Catalyst

Safe Sitter program prepares teens beyond first aid

By Emily Upshur
Public Relations

Volunteer Services’ Katy Kuder, right, demonstrates how to locate the sternum on an infant training mannequin to Safe Sitters’ Olivia Kloxin, Braden Siegal and Anna D’Euugeni. photos by Emily Upshur, Public Relations

Summer break gives teenagers a chance to grow by trying entirely new things or building upon their existing strengths. One opportunity for such growth is getting a job as a babysitter.  

This June, Katy Kuder, manager of MUSC’s Department of Volunteer and Guest Services, and Kelly Hedges, the department coordinator, have been teaching skills–building classes as part of the Safe Sitter program.

The program is designed for middle-school students ranging from ages 11 to 14. Over the course of two days, students learn first aid, business expertise and life skills, all of which enable them to become more confident sitters and individuals.

“MUSC has been a certified Safe Sitter site for over 20 years, but the program had lapsed in offering,” said Hedges. “When Katy and I found out about the program, we wanted to start it up again as community outreach. We asked our superiors if that would be acceptable, and they said, ‘Of course. That sounds great — way to give back to the community.’ Safe Sitter is designed to teach safe babysitting habits before they start babysitting. We really teach the children, through this curriculum, that when you accept a babysitting job, you accept the responsibility for a child’s life. And you teach them that babysitting is a serious obligation and that it’s a business.”     

Safe Sitter offers a variety of instruction and trainings for its students.

Emergency medical skills such as rescue breaths, chest compressions and abdominal thrusts are taught and tested both through written and technical exams. Much of the learning is done through a series of hands–on activities within structured games and role–playing scenarios. In one class, each student gets the chance to go through the procedure of calling 911 and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on both infant and toddler CPR mannequins.

Safe Sitter student Kaitlyn Floyd said, “My favorite part is the hands–on experiences and learning how to do CPR, because I didn’t know how to do that, but I do now.”

Participant Nick Delcioppo, 12,  locates the sternum on the infant mannequin in preparation for administrating rescue breaths. Delcioppo attended the June 26 class as part of a two-day training.

Floyd’s friend, Anna McClure, expressed the desire to use what she learns in Safe Sitter later in life when she enters a career as a pediatrician or emergency room nurse. Nick Delcioppo, another student in the course also said he was happy to know CPR because he would be helping to take care of his little brother during the summer.

Along with crisis training, Safe Sitter teaches students about the business side of babysitting. They are taught how to dress appropriately and how to shake hands with a potential client. Students are trained on how to cancel an appointment and when it is acceptable to do so. Business networking is also taught as part of the program.

Hedges explained, “We do a whole section on where it’s appropriate to advertise. Who do I introduce myself to? We teach them how to network appropriately: by word of mouth or through their school systems, a guidance counselor, maybe, or through a church group.”

According to Hedges, Safe Sitter’s most enduring contribution to its students is the way the program instills a sense of confidence they may not have developed otherwise. Before the program, they may have been uncertain about watching children or even starting their own business. After going through Safe Sitter, these teenagers now have the tools and courage necessary to handle these kinds of decisions.    

Hedges said, “I know plenty of middle-school kids who are terrified to be left alone because they don’t know what to do. But Safe Sitter is a way to help them feel it’s okay if situations arise because they’ve been trained in what to do.”

To learn more about Safe Sitter, check out their website at

July 10, 2014



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