Coquihalla Elementary has launched a new school safety patrol.
Modeled after the BCAA program, a group of student patrollers are now helping peers cross the street safely after school. They are currently focusing on the main crosswalk in front of the school, however, the group is working towards covering more crosswalks and times.
“We’ve always wanted to do it but we never had kids old enough,” said principal Monique Gratrix. “So when we found out we were getting the C.E. Barry kids, it gave us the opportunity. We’ve always seen the need. The kids are really excited about it.”
BCAA provided the patrol gear and training materials, and the RCMP assisted with the three-hour training session. Patrollers are given a safety patrol vest, stop sign, reflective wristband, whistle with lanyard, and patroller handbook outlining procedures and safety practices. Written consent from a parent or guardian is required to participate in the program.
“I wanted to volunteer so that I could keep the school safe and I can show some leadership and I can be responsible,” said patroller Meadow Ouellet.
Patrol teams consist of three students: one team leader and two patrollers. The team positions themselves on the curb rather than on the road, and patrollers report for duty before class dismissal to prepare the crosswalk with traffic cones. The leader uses a whistle and voice commands to signal the other two patrollers who use stop signs. Students not following safety procedures are written up, while those who do are given “gotchas” in recognition of doing the right thing.
“I would really like the public to be aware and vigilant when they’re out on the road with this new program up and running,” said Const. Jackie Remple, school liaison officer. “I want them to be aware of the kids doing this and what they are doing.
The School Safety Patrol Program was founded in the 1920s by Charles M. Hayes, president of the Chicago Motor Club, after several children at a school crossing were killed by a speeding car.
The first patrol was established with two dozen boys trained to assist students across the road safely. Today, millions of youths have served as School Safety Patrollers in countries throughout the world. The Canadian Automobile Association’s School Safety Patrol Program has been in operation for over 80 years. Student volunteers from grades five to seven participate in the BCAA program in schools throughout the province.