As a radio host, founder and coordinator of the monthly Segar Jazz Affair at Hotel Indigo, former rec-league basketball coach and budding playwright, Dwain “DJ” Segar is a jack of many trades. His most recent venture, Kids Feel Safe, aims to support the elementary and middle school aged children of Athens.
Founded in June, the nonprofit program involves placing a yellow sticker on the windows of participating businesses to indicate that kids can enter for help if they feel in danger, sick or need assistance from an adult. Businesses involved include Automatic Pizza, Normal Hardware, Cecilia’s Cake Shop, Sam’s Food Mart, Athens Blueprint & Copy Shop and Carson’s Plumbing, among others. Rather than just gaining permission and dropping off the sticker, Segar also advises employees on their role as a point of safety for kids in trouble. Additionally, Segar is in the process of distributing emergency contact cards that parents can fill out for children to carry.
The medium through which Segar educates kids on his program is schools. Segar first ran this idea by Sheriff John Q. Williams and Athens Area Chamber of Commerce officials for approval. Since then, he has met with approximately 165 Clarke County School District administrators and teachers. Reactions from school staff have been agreeable thus far, and kids are gaining knowledge of the program, he says.
“All the teachers that were at the meeting, what they had to do was to go back to school and educate the elementary and middle school kids about the yellow stickers on retail stores throughout the city,” Segar says. “The stickers are called ‘Kids Feel Safe,’ because we want our kids to feel cared for when they’re not at home.”
Segar’s efforts are inspired by his past involvements in New York City, where he lived until moving to Athens 10 years ago. Neighborhood kids flourished in Segar’s rec basketball league, which focused on learning skills required of the game rather than competition. While maintaining the league, Segar established a safety program similar to Kids Feel Safe, called Safe Haven, in New York. Beginning with the chain of stores he worked in security for, Safe Haven expanded to provide reliable aid that kids in the city could access.
“I got all of the locations involved, and ensured it was taught in school that if you see the yellow sticker on the door of the office or retail store, automatically you can go in for help or use the phone if you’re not feeling well and you need someone to call your parents,” Segar says. “I was doing that in New York for the last five years I was there. I decided I want to do something similar in Athens.”
Segar began hosting a jazz show on WXAG 92.7 FM upon moving to Athens, and two months later started his smooth jazz concert series, the Segar Jazz Affair. Featuring musicians hailing from as far away as Colorado, the event is once a month on Sundays. Over 85 shows have been played at the Foundry, Omega Bar and its current location, Hotel Indigo.
Combining both his passion for kids and musical savviness, Segar is currently working on a play entitled The Circle. “The basketball program inspired me to write the play. I chose the word ‘circle’ because in the beginning of the basketball session, all the little kids would meet in a circle, and again at the end of the session,” Segar said. “The play is about kids of all colors. The slogan is ‘Kids love color, they don’t see color.’”
Though in its first stages of drafting, Segar is hopeful that The Circle will inspire inclusivity and kindness in both children and adults.
Segar intends to expand Kids Feel Safe throughout Athens and the state. Gov. Brian Kemp, from whom Segar received a handwritten letter of thanks in July, is a notable supporter. The mission of Kids Feel Safe, Segar says, is simple: for kids of Athens to feel comfortable and cared for by the businesses of their community.
“My goal is to work from Athens to Monroe to Winder to Gwinnett all the way to Atlanta,” Segar said. “It [Kids Feel Safe] is really wonderful. I just love kids.”
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