Student draws on her talent to promote safety Coloring book focuses on fire prevention

June 05, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Margot VanDenBerghe picked up her first crayon when she was 2, but she doesn't remember what she drew.

"I'm pretty sure my mom knows, but I don't," she said.

Crayons became markers, and markers became graphic pencils, but Margot is still drawing.

Yesterday, the 16-year-old sophomore at Northeast Senior High School in Pasadena was honored by the Maryland State Fireman's Association Ladies Auxiliary for her part in producing a coloring book on fire prevention.

Margot designed and illustrated the 10-page book, which encourages children to ask their parents to buy smoke detectors and warns them to stay away from matches.

By the end of this month, about 4,000 copies of the book will be in all 11 Maryland travel centers and some fire departments, said Sharon Funk, chairwoman of the auxiliary's fire prevention committee.

"People all over Maryland can go to the welcome centers and pick one up," she said. "I just love it."

Funk said she got the concept for the book last year when she couldn't find fire-prevention literature at some travel centers.

Auxiliary President Sharon Worthington said the 183-member organization decided to spend $600 to create a coloring book to reach youngsters.

"Dealing with young people is where you have to start," Worthington said. "They grasp the concept when they color."

Funk, a 1972 graduate of Northeast, approached the school's art teacher, Joanne Buritsch, several months ago and asked her whether she knew of a student who would illustrate the book.

Buritsch immediately thought of Margot.

"She seems to be very graphically oriented," Buritsch said. "She loves to draw, and she's a natural at it."

Margot said it took her three weeks to draw the pictures, which illustrate advice such as "Stay away from hot things in the kitchen" and "Firefighters are your friends."

"It wasn't hard," Margot said. "I like little kids, and if I can help them, I will."

Margot said she hopes her coloring book is more than just entertainment.

"I hope they learn how they can prevent fires and help themselves," she said. "I hope it doesn't get thrown out, either."

Worthington and Funk gave Margot a black-eyed Susan pin, a plaque and a bouquet of red roses for her work.

"I know it was a school project, and I hope your teacher gave you an A," Worthington told Margot. "You may have saved a life without knowing it."

Buritsch replied, "She got the A."

Pub Date: 6/05/96

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