Grayson Pietro was one of 40 children who recently graduated from Hopewell Valley YMCA’s Safety Town.

The Hopewell Valley YMCA graduated 40 rising kindergartners from the Safety Town program on June 30. Now in its sixth year, Safety Town is a one-week YMCA program that provides hands-on safety education for children in a constructive play environment.

Safety Town was held at Bear Tavern Elementary School for the first time this year. Bear Tavern’s gym was transformed into a child-sized town with, miniature streets, crosswalks, community buildings and a working traffic light—making it the perfect setting for bicycle, pedestrian and vehicular safety instruction.

Sixty local teens volunteered to provide one-on-one assistance to the children. Teachers Kim Shugar and Judie Mochel were joined by daily visitors from the community, including Nancy Distelcamp of Capital Health to talk about bicycle safety; police officer Joe McNeil to discuss pedestrian safety; Hopewell Valley Emergency Services to demonstrate fire safety; and Hopewell Valley school district bus driver Mr. Ron to teach bus safety.

The young graduates were honored at a graduation ceremony with certificates of completion presented by Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski and YMCA CEO Doug Pszczolkowski.

Jean Gianacacci, of Christine’s Hope for Kids, was also there to present a $5,000 donation to Hopewell Valley YMCA’s annual campaign which provides scholarships and financial assistance to children attending HVYMCA’s summer camps.

“Providing community safety trainings and quality programming for children have long been pillars of our mission here at the Hopewell Valley YMCA,” Pszczolkowski said. “Whether it’s through CPR training, mental health first aid or Safety Town, we believe that safety education is an important part of building a healthy community.”

The Hopewell Valley YMCA is offering several upcoming safety programs this summer including three mental health first aid trainings in July. For more information, visit