Fort Wayne’s fire department and the AWS Foundation, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, announced Wednesday they will start offering free safety kits for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
AWS Foundation CEO Patti Hays says children with autism are more likely to wander from the safety of their house or families, so the kits include window alarms and stop signs to place on doors.
The kits also include ID tags for nonverbal children, advice from other parents, and more.
Fort Wayne Fire Chief Eric Lahey says the fire department aims to keep everyone safe, beyond just emergency response.
“The first time I heard it, I knew that this was something that we wanted to be involved in,” Lahey said. “It’s one of the most vulnerable populations of our community, and we got to do everything we can to help any way we can.”
For the initial offering, two thousand kits were assembled by students at Fort Wayne Community Schools. Several products are made by companies that employ people with disabilities.
The decision on what products to put in the kits were made by medical professionals, service providers, and parents of children with disabilities.
The safety kits are available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at any of the city’s 19 fire departments.