Swing into Summer Safety aims to educate children with different tips on how to prevent fire accidents, as well as a number of other potential injuries that occur to kids who participate in outdoor activities during the summer months.
On hand for the educational event was Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor, team president and CEO Paul Beeston, along with Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek, Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs President Kevin Foster and Toronto Fire Services Acting Fire Chief Ron Jenkins. A number of firefighters from the local fire hall were also in attendance for the campaign, which was presented to students in students in Grades 4 and 5 from Duke of York Public School in Regent Park.
"It is once again great to partner up with the Blue Jays and to bring this tremendous program to the youth of our communities," Foster said. "If we are able to prevent one fire before it starts, then all our efforts have been well worth it."
Foster went on to talk about other activities and sports where kids commonly are injured and spoke about the importance of wearing proper safety equipment. Some of the most frequent injuries firefighters see come in the water from those not wearing life jackets, as well as skateboarders and bike riders, who do not wear helmets. Foster stressed how avoidable many of these accidents are if kids, and adults even, simply practiced the recommended tips.
"Those are the types of calls that we respond to," Foster said. "In the summer time, what's common is the enthusiasm of the kids. They're having fun and the last thing they think about is safety. We've all been there and experienced it ourselves. We need to remind kids that when they're having fun, they can also cause serious harm that could affect them for the rest of their lives."
As far as fires go, Foster talked about how the lack of smoke alarms in Toronto homes is an issue. Foster stressed the importance of continually checking to make sure the device is working and that it always has fresh batteries.
Beeston was proud to be on hand and showed his support by presenting each of Wieclawek, Foster and Jenkins with the official home Blue Jays jersey with their names on the back of it.
"It's a special day for us, for all our players, it's a special day with what we're trying to do to help back in the community," Beeston said. "It's our pleasure that we are able to work with the fire chiefs across Ontario."
Beeston's biggest message, perhaps, was when he insisted to kids that firefighters are people they should turn to, telling the Duke of York group of kids that, "these are your friends."
Frasor, who had son Jackson and wife Laura with him, echoed Beeston's message.
"Don't ever be afraid to ask questions," Frasor told the students. "It's important to encourage our kids to use their instincts and common sense. If it feels wrong and looks bad, it probably is, and that's when you go for help."
Frasor was well equipped to speak about these safety tips, as he already implements them with Jackson.
"Trying to prevent being on the news," Frasor said about the presentation. "How many times do you put on the news and there has been an accident? I'm teaching my kid the same thing. Trying to encourage them to use common sense and good judgment."
He also believes the Fire Marshal's Office is doing a great job at promoting awareness throughout the year. There is a public education division program that goes around to different schools during the year and talks to the students about fire safety and the different hazards that kids may encounter. It's an effort that Toronto Fire Services constantly makes.
"We did some of this stuff, but the best part was being out of school," Frasor joked about his time as a kid. "I don't know if we really got the message. So it's important that you keep pounding it into these kids."
The 34-year-old then provided the comic relief of the day at the expense of himself.
"I've put out a few fires in my day, and also started a few -- one game last week, it wasn't pretty," Frasor said about the walk-off homer he surrendered to Josh Hamilton in extra innings Saturday, which made many in attendance burst out into laughter.
Afterward, the students ate pizza and were presented with Blue Jays hats, baseballs and a pack of Blue Jays fire safety cards. The cards have different tips on them and will also be given out to the first 25,000 fans who attend Toronto's June 13th Interleague game against the Washington Nationals.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.