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Spreading the word

Photos by Dan Bishop

April 2014

After the drowning death of her grandson, Ryder, Jean Davidson began a crusade to educate children about how to react in dangerous situations.

After Jean Davidsonís beloved 4-year-old grandson tragically drowned in a water-filled ditch while playing with friends, the teacher in her used the experience to prevent other tragedies.

Davidson developed a program called Yell and Tell, aimed at the young child who sees something dangerous, feels afraid and doesnít know what to do, as was the case with her grandsonís drowning. "Many times a child will run away or say nothing because they donít want to get into trouble or be called a tattletale. Sometimes the child is so afraid they are too scared to do anything," Davidson explains. The Yell and Tell program teaches children who observe a dangerous situation how to take action and become heroes.

Davidson, the granddaughter of one of the founders of Harley-Davidson Motor Co. and now retired from teaching, has traveled around the country and to several foreign nations to teach her program. She has partnered with schools, police and fire departments as well as civic organizations to spread the word about Yell and Tell. "I do a lot of traveling and speaking to groups and conferences. I even taught the program in Hungary. People are very open to it and Iím so grateful for that," she says.

Marcus Theatres has partnered with Davidson, showing a short film about Yell and Tell to audiences prior to childrenís movies. During the recent holiday season, the message reached an estimated 28,000 people in seven states.

Since the program began six years ago, more than 100 children have become heroes. "Weíve had so many success stories. A brother saved his sister. A young child saved his grandfather. Itís so gratifying," Davison says. Many of these heroic stories are featured on the Yell and Tell website,

The program is aimed at children 4 and older, but older children can become junior trainers by learning the simple steps behind the program. Each lesson covers a dangerous situation that a child might encounter. "We just added the bullying lesson at the request of one of our police departments," Davidson says.

As a way to educate children about Yell and Tell, Davidson has written a book called "Trouble at the Lake," which is available on the website. "Many of our program materials can be downloaded from the website," Davidson says. She has written other books that focus on Harley-Davidson and the Davidson family, and some of the funds from the book sales are used to support Yell and Tell.

This year Davidson plans to have a new interactive teaching website. "My goal is that every child in the world would learn about Yell and Tell," she says. 


This story ran in the April 2014 issue of: