By Marianne Brueckert
Toques have been given out to schools in the Fraser-Cascade School District 78’s jurisdiction.
What arose out of tragic circumstances has become a positive and community wide response to help ensure greater safety for all children and youth in our community.
On Nov. 7, 2016, Darryl Peters was struck by a vehicle on Highway 7. His death was a heartbreaking loss for his family and the community and this initiative was undertaken in his memory. That loss led to a conversation at the police office about what we can do to help protect young people and prevent future tragedies.
In my 25 years with Victim Services in Hope, I have seen far too many accidents and deaths on our highways. That sense of helplessness and anger at a life cut too short resulted a lot of reflection about what can we do to make a difference.
While visibility is not the only factor in accidents, it is one that we can have some impact on and with that in mind the conversation, borne out of loss and sadness, resulted in a great idea to look at reflective toques for kids. The idea for the toques came from a conversation I had with my husband, George Preston, a retired RCMP officer who has seen his share of accidents and tragedies in his 36 years of policing. His initial ideas and search online helped to identify the toques as being the best option for young people particularly in the dark winter months on our highways and in our town.
This project would not have been possible without the involvement of many community partners.
Dennis Adamson, representative for Fraser Valley Regional District Area B, expressed genuine interest and immediate support for this idea. His initial offer of funds allowed us to explore the purchase of toques for some youth in our communities of Hope and Boston Bar.
Great thanks also goes to Karen Nelson, the superintendent of SD78, who recognized that this issue was of such importance that all children and youth in the school district would benefit from this safety initiative. They stepped forward and provided significant funds to make this a District wide initiative.
Ryan Ellan from Sasquatch Signs stepped up to offer incredible support and help in making this project possible. He offered his services at no charge to source out the best toques at the best price and even arranged for pick-up saving us the delivery charge. This allowed us to purchase additional toques and he has arranged for a second and third order as out numbers ran short. His commitment to this initiative is outstanding.
The support has not stopped there. The District of Hope has also made a contribution supporting this project and the RCMP has participated in this safety initiative. They have helped to inform and educate students on the importance of safety and visibility for our young people.
Victim Services is fortunate to have partnered with all of these groups and we are thrilled to see the results. We will be directly funding toques for the clients at Tillicum Centre as they represent another vulnerable population who is often on foot in our community and may be at higher risk of being injured.
It is also important to note that the School District 78 has also undertaken a project to have reflective wrist/ ankle bands made and distributed to every student in the District. These items will be perfect for summer use and when kids are on their bikes. Board chair Linda Kerr has led this initiative and these items are also being provided to the students.