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Around The Grange
Child ID program encourages parents to address child safety

By Sarah Cushing, Reminder News (11-10-06)

  NOVEMBER 2006 --

The Moosup Masonic Lodge and the Sterling Ekonk Community Grange held a free child identification program on Saturday, Nov. 4, to encourage parents to keep their minds on the safety of their children . The identification program, known as the Connecticut Child Identification Program, or CTCHIP, was designed and instituted by the Masons as part of a community outreach program.

Families were encouraged to bring their infants through 18-year-olds to the grange to have a packet containing identification information created.

“Each child’s package contains information that could be used in search for a missing child,” explained Mike Dodge, chairman for the ninth district Masons.

“We hope that the parents keep this information with them so that, if they should need it, they can simply hand the packet over to law enforcement,” Dodge said.

Area Masons volunteered their time and efforts for the event by taking photos and helping to assemble the packets.

“What makes the CTCHIP program one of the most comprehensive identification programs around is the inclusion of a video and DNA in the packets we create,” explained Dodge.

“By having video documentation of a child, law enforcement can use that to see a child’s mannerisms, and this can help in the recovery of a missing child. You can change a child’s looks, but changing mannerisms is hard to do.”

The Masons are hoping that the packets will never be needed, but by creating a way for parents and guardians to keep pertinent information on hand about their children; it can provide a sense of security and aid in the times when it might be relevant.

“Children are our future,” said Dodge. “By directing our initiatives toward the safety and aid to parents and children, we as Masons are able to lend a helping hand to our community and do something that can help save lives.” This session of the program had a relatively small turn-out .

“The first time we held the event, we had upwards of 200 kids being identified ,” explained Rebecca Gervais, a grange member.<

“I think that a lot of parents don’t realize the importance of updating the packets and think that having had their children done once is good enough.”<

The Masons encourage parents to keep the packets updated on a yearly basis, especially while the child is going through the infant-to-toddler transition.<

“So much growing and changing occurs with little ones,” said Gervais. “By coming back to the events and updating the packets you already have, you can keep the information current and increase the likelihood of them being effective when they are used,” Gervais said.<

The Masons have also held CTCHIP programs in schools, and find that it works better there because they have a higher concentration of children, and the events tend to be more organized.

“We hope to bring the program to the Moosup school system sometime in the spring,” said Dodge. “We are currently working with the school board and principal to schedule a time.”

In the past, the Masons have run the program in Thompson and were able to process more than 500 grade schoolaged children in a manner of days. “Our ultimate hope is to have every child in Connecticut ID'ed , so that their parents can be prepared in case a child goes missing,” said Dodge.

The Connecticut Masons hope to continue implementing the CTCHIP program throughout the Windham area and welcome anyone interested in sponsoring the program to contact them through their Web site.

To learn more about the CTCHIP program, visit the Connecticut Masons CHIP Web site at www.ctchip.org.

The Sterling Ekonk Community Grange has several upcoming events they will hold in the next months.

They will have their holiday bazaar on Nov. 25 at the Grange Hall on Ekonk Hill Road, and in December, they are scheduled to hold the group's annual Turkey Supper.

For additional information about the grange community events, call 860-564-4751.


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