An Emergency Services Expo is one of the highlights of this week’s Kidsfest Shellharbour, a seven-day event of free and low-cost activities for children.
The “Helper Friends” expo is designed to make firefighters, police and ambulance officers seem more approachable to the little ones who may be frightened of people in uniform.
RFS Illawarra district services officer David Hitchens said it gives children an insight into the “scary” people who are there to help them.
“They see us rocking down the street in a big red truck, in an ambulance or a police car - big, loud scary - we rock up to their front doors at the worst times. It builds animosity and they’re scared of us,” Mr Hitchens said.
“It’s a way we can show them we’re no different to their mums and dads, we’re here doing a job just like them.”
The expo runs from 10am to 2pm on Tuesday at the Illawarra RFS Control Centre in Albion Park Rail.
Tessa Parsons was instrumental in getting the festival off the ground a decade ago and is thrilled it’s grown to include more than 40 activities.
“It’s highlighting all the fantastic things that are avaialble for families in Shellharbour and there are very few screens (or electronics) involved,” she said.
Other highlights of the 10th annual festival include the Clothes and Toy swap at Albion Park Anclican Church on Monday from 10am to 11:30am.
People can donate and swap up to 30 items in good condition then have morning tea.
Each evening children can have a crack at boxing or martial arts like jishukan and tae kwon do.
Parents with toddlers can enjoy the Communities for Children Picnic from 10am to midday on Thursday.
They see us rocking down the street in a big red truck, in an ambulance or a police car - big, loud scary.RFS officer David Hitchens
Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba will be on hand to help with reading activites. There’ll also be music, art and crafts, ball games, face painting and gardening.
Friday evening kids aged seven to 12 can go on a Nocturnal Magic Spotlighting Adventure at Blackbutt Forest and learn about the natural environment and creatures.
While Saturday is the big day for the diary, with the “Finale” at Killalea State Park.
From midday to 7pm The Farm and Killalea Camping Ground will host workshops and activites like an art trail, costume creation, music jam, Aboriginal dancing, damper cooking, Scouts climbing wall, circus drop in zone, lantern making, STEM Roadshow with drones and bottle rockets, sustainable living, treasures of the past from Tongarra Museum, kite making and balloon knighting cermony.
More than 40 activities are on offer for children aged 12 and under. For the full schedule visit http://kidsfestshellharbour.com.au