COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - First and second graders at Fairfield Magnet School are showing off their rapping and dancing skills in a video thanking first responders.
Kimi Barwick-Daly is a visual arts teacher and spearheaded the project with her class after discussing the role first responders play in the community. The class began by drawing different uniforms of first responders and constructing a village with various buildings and homes.
"They had a lot of questions I could answer, but it really wasn't going anywhere, so I decided I needed something more," Barwick-Daly said.
She spent the next few weeks coordinating with various agencies around the county, including some members of the U.S. Army. Each brought their equipment and vehicles to the school for the kids to look at and ask questions.
"We wrote the rap to thank them and thought, let's make it come off the page and put a few dance moves in and include some fun scenes," she said.
The students worked with county EMS workers, firefighters, police officers and the military for five days to create the rap. In addition to teaching the first responders some new dance moves, Barwick-Daly said her students walked away with a better understanding and rapport with the men and women in uniform.
"Some of them had really positive things to say because they knew of them beforehand," she said. "But then you had the other kids that maybe had never dealt with one before, only seen it on TV, and maybe were intimidated by the outfit or the car."
While she said some of the students were intimidated at first, they quickly grew comfortable.
"The fun part about it was teaching them new things and they did teach us new things, too," second grader Imani said. "Other kids shouldn't be afraid of first responders because they help us and they save our lives."
Several members of the school's step-team helped teach dance moves to some of the firefighters.
"We did this dance and they were dancing behind us," Sanjana, a second grader in the video, said. "They were funny when they were dancing."
Agencies involved said the experience was just as much fun for the adults as it was the kids.
"They tried the coats on and they thought they were heavy," Greg Gerber, deputy director for Fairfield County Fire Service, said. "Then we did a little bit of rescue and we had to pick them up and carry them and they thought that was fun that we were running out of the school with them. They had a blast."
Chris Truesdale works as a sergeant with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Department and said the experience was an opportunity to break down barriers with students.
"They get to see us in a different light and often times when they're younger, any time you encounter a first responder it's usually a hectic situation," he said. "But we can help form a positive connotation in their minds when it comes to police."
The video posted on YouTube has more than 1,400 views.