Hanceville 3rd grader launches ‘Safety First’ campaign

Hanceville Elementary School third grader Aistin Gable (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Aistin Gable is a little boy with an enormous heart who enjoys helping others but shies away from the spotlight. The Hanceville third grader spent time Monday during his fall break picking up litter left behind at Hanceville’s Veterans Park. He worried about the ducks or other visitors being harmed by the discarded hooks and fishing line. He also worries about his classmates at Hanceville Elementary and thinks of ways he can help make their lives better.

Recently, Aistin approached his parents, Jeff and Amy Gable, after taking part in an active shooter drill conducted at his school.

His mom explained, “They went over the lockdown drill and things the students were to do if the shooter was on one side or the other and how they were to respond. He had told me that the classroom doors were just regular locks. He said, ‘I wish there was a way we could lock the doors so the teachers don’t have to hold them and they can hide, too.’”

The kids are also instructed to run to safety if they are outside or if the shooter is determined to be on the other side of the school.

Aistin said, “There are kids with physical disabilities; they can’t run; they can’t escape. There has to be a way to lock those doors.”

He continued, “I don’t like the drills because I have to get in a crowded space. I hate crowded spaces. We have to go in the corner and hope nobody gets in.”

The kids are instructed to stay away from the windows. and the windows are closed and covered at all times.

With all of this in mind, Aistin sprang into action and began his “Safety First” campaign. He hopes the community will help him.

The Gables began researching safety locks, but the first ones they found were against fire code and not approved secondary devices. The approved secondary locks are a deadbolt that is engaged by a safety button.

Said Amy Gable, “We’ve talked to Sen. (Garlan) Gudger, and he said he was looking into it because he felt the safety of the children was very important. We just want to ease the minds of the community.”

Aistin is trying to raise $14,000 for the purchase and installation of the new locks for every room at Hanceville Elementary School.

“I’ve had people ask me, ‘What are the odds of a shooting here in Hanceville?’,” said Aistin’s mom. “Well, hopefully slim to none, but every school that’s had a shooting has thought that, especially when it’s been an elementary shooting.”

She continued, “We will start a GoFundMe if necessary, but we are hoping enough people in the community will realize that this is their children, their grandchildren or themselves that work here at the school and they will step up and help us with this. By donations, fundraisers or if they have an idea they want to throw at us, we are game- $14,000 is a lot of money, and I understand the school board can’t do this kind of lock for every classroom in every school in Cullman County. We also don’t want this project to take two to three years to get done. The world is changing and it’s not the world we grew up in as children. It’s no longer the safe place where you could play outside until the street lights came on and you knew it was time to get home. Our children are going from class to class keeping their guard up, watching for strangers, practicing active shooter situations and discussing whether or not to put a bucket of baseballs under the desk to throw in case someone comes in the classroom. Our kids shouldn’t have to go through that. We are hoping the community will help us out so the kids can focus on their studies and teachers can focus on teaching and have peace of mind. This could be the one barrier that saves more lives.”

Aistin loves his classmates and his teachers and worries about them.

“He worries more than people would ever know,” Amy Gable said.

Aistin also helps with Knapsacks for Kids, the Bulldog Pantry, the Campus Clean-Up Group and Christmas Love. Giving to others brings him more joy than receiving gifts for himself.

Aisitn told Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail, “I’m coming for your job, so don’t get comfortable as mayor. Just keep the seat warm for me.”

Added his mom, “He loves Hanceville and wants to make it a better place for everyone.”

For those who would like to donate, she said, “They can PayPal me, drop off at school, cash or check. All money will be accounted for. Anything left over will be used for other things the school needs.

Read more about Aistin at www.cullmantribune.com/2019/03/23/hanceville-elementary-student-raises-200-to-buy-lunch-for-classmates.

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Christy Perry