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Family tragedy inspires program to empower kids

Yell and Tell being taught in many communities

Feb. 29, 2012

Wauwatosa's Jean Davidson and her daughter, Lori Walker, have turned personal tragedy into a life-saving program that teaches children how to get help when a dangerous situation arises.

The Davidson Yell and Tell Program Foundation was created by Davidson after her 4-year-old grandson, Ryder, died in an accident in 2006. He and another 4-year-old boy fell into a ditch filled with water while playing with an 8-year-old neighbor. The 8-year-old, scared by the situation, ran home instead of yelling for help and telling someone what had happened, something that Davidson said could have saved her grandson's life.

"We're trying to spread the word when people say this saved a life and kids really did yell and tell, that this has meaning and helped people," Walker said. "That if you can yell and tell you can save a life and prevent tragedy; it has a useful purpose."

The program provides lesson plans, teaching materials and videos for pools, rivers/lakes, fire, poison, guns and child enticement.

Davidson and Walker also have written a children's book, "Trouble on the Lake," as a teaching aid.

"It's a great teaching tool for parents; it's not just for school and libraries," Walker said.

The program is making an impact around the country. This year it will be taught by YMCA staff at all of its camps and by staff at all of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Milwaukee, Davidson said.

The Wauwatosa Kiwanis Club has donated $5,000 so that all Wauwatosa grade schools will have the program. This is the second year the club has been a sponsor. 

Yell and Tell is even being talked about at the beginning of children’s movies shown at Marcus Theatres, Davidson said.

While they don’t have exact numbers showing the impact of the program, they know it’s working. The Yell and Tell Program website highlights several success stories, but they know there are many more out there.

"It's just so simple," Davidson said. "I think that's what makes it so successful. It's not rocket science."

To recommend a person be featured in Someone You Should Know, send an email to someone@cninow.com or call (262) 446-6643.

JUST THE FACTS

NAMES: Jean Davidson and Lori Walker

AGES: 74 and 51, respectively

NOTED FOR: Davidson is the executive director of Davidson Yell and Tell Program Foundation; Walker serves as secretary on the foundation's board. They are the co-authors of "Trouble on the Lake."

ONLINE: YellAndTell.com

PEARLS OF WISDOM: "Teach your children if they see something dangerous that they should yell 'help' and tell someone right away." - Jean Davidson

"Children that learn the 'Yell and Tell' message can save lives." - Lori Walker

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