June 16th, 2024

Year-end event celebrates school safety patrollers

By Lethbridge Herald on May 23, 2024.

School safety patrollers participate in a blindfolded obstacle course, aided by LPS Constable Leanne Christos, during a year-end celebration event on Wednesday morning in the 1st Choice Savings Centre at the University of Lethbridge. Herald photo by Justin Sibbet

Justin Sibbet – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

For over 85 years, children in Alberta have been helping one another safely cross the road in front of their schools.

To celebrate the current crop of students who keep their classmates safe, the Alberta Motor Association, University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge Police Service all teamed up to create a day of fun for the students.

Allison Purcell, a school safety patrol coordinator with the AMA, says the students deserve the break following all their hard work and dedication.

“Whether it’s raining, snowing or hot and sunny, they’re out on the crosswalk helping their fellow students get to and from school safe,” said Purcell.

She says schools from across southern Alberta were taking part in the year-end celebrations, held at the University of Lethbridge. This included elementary schools from Lethbridge, Pincher Creek, Magrath, Raymond and Fort MacLeod.

However, she adds how there is a lot of education behind the program, such as safe crossing techniques.

“We teach them how to make eye contact with drivers, the importance of waiting until the driver comes to a complete stop before crossing,” said Purcell. “Then of course, the three P’s of crossing the road – point, pause and proceed.” 

She says another crucial part of the education is to ensure students are aware of the potential for drivers to make mistakes, or simply not be operate their vehicles safely.

“Students are needing to pay attention to drives who might not be paying attention to the road,” said Purcell.

Steph Elder, interim director of youth outreach for the faculty of arts and science at the University of Lethbridge, says the environment created by the crosswalk program is great for students to build important life skills. 

“It’s definitely wonderful to see these students who are taking leadership roles in their schools,” said Elder. 

She says the event also gives students an opportunity to explore new technologies and become more educated in fun ways. One such activity included operating robot spheres via tablets.

“They’re learning how to drive those and play a little bit of ‘Rocket League’, but in real life,” said Elder.

Meanwhile, LPS Const. Donald Realini says a nice side effect of events such as this is the ability to engage with youth in the community.

“I think they just get a fun opportunity to spend time with us and they don’t get to do that very often,” said Realini. 

Furthermore, he says the connection between the AMA, school divisions, university and LPS are beneficial to everyone involved.

“Partnerships are crucial. We are very rarely successful when we do things on our own,” said Realini. 

Purcell says the almost 90-year success of the program is wonderful to see and the work done by the students remains just as important today as they day the program was initially put in place.

“It’s important to have school safety patrollers in our school communities as it just helps to get kids to and from school safely every day.”

The program involves students in Alberta who are currently in grade five and six and no serious injury or fatality has ever been reported when a student patroller has been present.

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