Social profit strives for safety

By THERESA WELLS, Connect Contributor

Signage shown downtown to remind residents to not jaywalk. SUPPLIED PHOTO

Signage shown downtown to remind residents to not jaywalk. SUPPLIED PHOTO

A key component in delivering quality of life in a community is ensuring it is as safe as it can possibly be. Every community strives to be a safe one for residents and visitors, and in our region, Safe Community Wood Buffalo (SCWB) works towards creating a safe place through a variety of initiatives.

Officially formed as a registered society in 1997 and a registered charity in 2010, SCWB has developed their prime objectives to revolve around injury prevention. These include safety for: car seats, roads, pedestrians, bicycles, childhood injury prevention and impaired and distracted driving education.

Gayle St. Denis, Executive Director of SCWB, is happy to share some of the key achievements of the organization. “Safe Community Wood Buffalo was the only community in Canada chosen for a global project called the ‘Model School Zone’,” says St. Denis.

This project was identified through surveys showing that a pedestrian safety awareness campaign was required, specifically to:
• Increase visibility of students particularly during the short daylight hours in the fall and winter months
• Increase parent/caregiver awareness, knowledge and behaviour of school zone safety.
• Reduce traffic congestion within the school zone

SCWB is also going into its seventh year of providing Wood Buffalo grade nine students with the P.A.R.T.Y. Program (Prevention of Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth). This program educates local youth on the responsibilities of driving and the impact that impaired, distracted driving and unsafe driving behaviour makes in a community.

“Safe Community Wood Buffalo also organizes Car Seat Information sessions monthly, which is something that wasn’t offered in our community previously,” said St. Denis.

St. Denis adds: “Safe Community Wood Buffalo also organizes Car Seat Information sessions monthly, which is something that wasn’t offered in our community previously.”

In addition to the initiatives, there have been 17 successful Family Safety Day events. Family Safety Day is a gathering of stakeholders all passionate about safety. They set up interactive booths to deliver safety messages and speak with residents in the community.

Continuing to pursue these initiatives is high on the priority list for SCWB, and St. Denis explains the organization has other plans on the go, too. “We have been striving to reach all the rural communities with our programming and initiatives in all of our key injury prevention areas. We hope to be able to expand these rural initiatives by hiring a rural coordinator,” she explains as SCWB works to ensure the message of safety and injury prevention is strong in all areas of the region.

– Connect Weekly –