ATCO ‘edu-tainment’ delivers important safety message

A house is filled with many hazards that can become life-threatening in a blink of an eye.

0710 Madelaine Knight

A house is filled with many hazards that can become life-threatening in a blink of an eye when electricity and natural gas energies are misused.

ATCO understand those hazards, and through a fun theatrical performance — which students of École Steffie Woima School enjoyed May 20 — it aims to educate children on how to identify and avoid them.

“Using electricity and natural gas is an everyday thing, and I think it’s easy to forget that these things can be dangerous — especially for little kids,” said Madelaine Knight, one of the performers in the ATCO Energy Theatre production. “Kids are so used to just flipping the light switch on and it works, and they never really think about why.”

The play showed students the potential hazards associated with everyday objects such as refrigerators, telephones, light switches, electrical outlets and battery-powered utilities, which can present fire hazards and cause painful electrical shocks.

Knight said students typically get excited about what they’re being taught through the play, and end up sharing that information with their parents. That in turn, she said, may result in a more safety-conscientious environment at home.

“It’s getting them to be excited about it,” Knight said. “It’s not just educational, it’s also fun. They can go home and see it right in their home.”

ATCO calls the play a form of “edu-tainment,” and says it’s been performed for more than 112,000 students across the province since its inception in 2007.

Sett Policicchio, President of ATCO Electric, noted in a media handout that engaging students through live theatre has proved “particularly effective” in delivering the play’s message.

“The script and performance by our actors allow our young audience members to see themselves in the context of the play, which is extremely important for learning,” he said. “We’re using the power of theatre to tell a story that is relevant to their world, while providing important information students can bring home and start applying immediately.”