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Life Skills for teens on curriculum at The Ridge

A group of teens attended a Life Skills program at The Ridge that gave them information on automotive maintenance and driving safety tips.

Class was in session at The Ridge Monday night despite local schools starting their spring breaks this week.

About eight area teens attended The Ridge’s second “Life Skills” program, which was coordinated by the City of Laurens Parks and Recreation Department.

“Some of the things we teach you tonight could save your life or someone else’s life,” Parks and Recreation Director Jason Pridgen told the attendees during a brief introduction. “This isn’t pass or fail, so ask us questions.”

The focus of Monday’s Life Skills program, which was the second presented at The Ridge, was automotive care and driving tips.

In addition to Pridgen, the program featured Laurens Fire Chief Neil Roberts, Police Chief Keith Grounsell and LPD patrol officers Sgt. Casey Jones and Cpl. Ryan Willard.

Laurens Fire Chief Neil Roberts shows teens how to check engine oil during the Life Skills program at The Ridge Monday.

Roberts, who said worked as a service technician at an automotive dealership before joining the fire service, covered car maintenance, including tire changes, how to connect jumper cables to batteries and checking the engine oil.

“By showing up tonight, you’re already ahead of a lot of adults,” Pridgen said to the attendees as Roberts wrapped up his part of the program.

Grounsell and the LPD officers covered tips on safe driving, including the proper etiquette if pulled over by police and what to do in order to make way for emergency vehicles.

“I think the police and firefighters taught us some good stuff about how to be safe on the roads,” said Anthony Chapman, 14, a student at Sanders Middle School. “What they did outside with the car is viable for people to learn, so in case something does happen, we know how to (fix) it and how to be safe.”

Pridgen said about 20 youth signed up for the Life Skills Course, but was still glad that eight showed up despite the threat of rain.

“That’s eight kids we taught a lot about life,” he said. “The whole purpose of this series of events is teaching life skills. . . . Not many of them had a lot of experience with what we talked about and hopefully, that will help save a life or help them get through an incident on the side of the road. You never know what’s going to happen.

Eli Cox, 12, tries his hand at changing a tire Monday at The Ridge during a Life Skills program.

Eli Cox, 12, is still a few years away from driving but got some hands-on experience with a scissors jack and a lug wrench under Roberts’ supervision during the program. Cox attended the Life Skills event with his two older brothers.

“I learned about how to jack up a car and how to do it safely,” he said.

Pridgen said the Parks and Recreation Department plans to continue the series of Life Skills programs at The Ridge. The first program was about financial services and included local bankers and tax workers who explained credit scores and about opening bank accounts.

“We had some adults show up for that one, but we weren’t going to turn anyone away,” Pridgen said. “There are things everybody needs to know.”

The Life Skills events are set to be presented quarterly at The Ridge, and the next program will include CPR and life-saving techniques.

“These are life skills that everybody needs,” Pridgen said. “Tonight was just another step in helping our community grow.”

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