Airdrie mom starts Block Parent pilot
Thursday, Sep 03, 2015 12:13 pm
Airdrie mom Lindsey Coyle is bringing Block Parent, Canada’s largest volunteer-run child safety program, back to the city.
The Block Parent window sign lets children, teens and seniors know there is help available in that house if they are lost, scared or in distress.
“Any house that has the sign, it is a safe place to go if you are ever in trouble and you’re not near home,” Coyle said.
Growing up in a Block Parent household in Winnipeg, Coyle researched the program in Airdrie because her child was going into the first grade and she had not seen any of the familiar red and white window signs she remembered as a child.
She said though she walks with her kids to school everyday, there are many children who do not get walked because they are older and that can pose a problem if they need help.
“There’s not a lot in between school and home, so Block Parent can give them a safe place in between,” Coyle said.
When in contact with Block Parent during her research, Coyle discovered Airdrie had run the program in the past, but it dissolved about eight years ago.
One person ran the entire Airdrie operation at the time, which Coyle said in all likelihood led to the program’s end.
“It’s all volunteer-driven, so the biggest part about running this is that you can’t have volunteer burnout,” Coyle said.
She wanted to ensure the program launched efficiently with the right people so responsibilities could be allocated reasonably.
Coyle is currently seeking leaders from communities around town to help develop and strategize the pilot program, which will launch in the neighbourhoods of Thorburn, Meadowbrook and Big Hill Springs.
“It’s just a matter of getting the ball rolling,” Coyle said.
To qualify as a Block Parent household, anyone 18 years of age or older must get a vulnerable sector clearance through the RCMP.
Children aged 12 to 17 are also required to have an RCMP check.
“As long as everyone in the home clears their clearance, then they can be issued a sign,” Coyle said.
She launched the Airdrie Block Parent Public Facebook page on Aug. 26 and she said the community support for the program was “overwhelmingly good” with 291 likes as of Aug. 31.
The biggest hurdle Coyle said she has had to face while promoting the Block Parent program is the misconception that if there are already two or three on the block then that is sufficient.
“That’s actually not true because you are only a Block Parent when you’re home,” said Coyle. “The odds of one person being home out of four is better than one out of three.”
With her Winnipeg home close to a school, Coyle remembered quite a few kids at her house because they were lost, bullied or even being followed.
In her current neighbourhood on the east side of Airdrie, Coyle does not anticipate there will be many kids coming to her door for help, but that does not stop her from being a Block Parent.
“All you need is one to make it worthwhile,” she said.
Airdrie Block Parent will have a booth at AirdrieFest for anyone who wants to sign up for the program or interested households can email firstname.lastname@example.org.