CHESTERMERE – This year the Alberta Motor Association (AMA) is celebrating 75 years with the School Patrols in Alberta. It’s a real cause for celebration as there have been no deaths or serious injuries in the cross walks these dedicated students patrol. That is a tremendous accomplishment and one to be proud of.
To mark the occasion at the Chestermere Rainbow School the patrollers were invited to meet and hear from Jack O’Neill a former patroller himself and now retired police officer. Jack began as a school patrol back in 1937 and was pleased to share his experience and that of the AMA School Patrol history with about 20 or so patrollers this past Thursday.
O’Neill engaged the students with his many stories and facts from his time as a young school patroller. Back then school patrollers had to manage crossings where there were horse drawn carriages and buggies, trolleys and large heavy and slow delivery trucks carrying such things as ice, milk, bread and produce. At this time there were no regulations regarding traffic and jaywalking was an accepted practice. Patrollers at that time were told to never stop horse drawn wagons or streetcars as neither could stop easily.
Initially it was the teachers that taught them when it was safe to move out into the roadway to stop traffic and how to get in and out of the roadway safely. It became apparent that teachers wouldn’t be able to go out with the patrols on every shift and this is where the AMA began its association with the School Patrols.
Lisa Nowlin-Clayton the Regional Coordinator for the AMA School Safety Patrol offered the following comments:
“With respect to our anniversary: generations of Albertans have discovered their leadership skills with AMA School Safety Patrol. Over 75 years of keeping our crosswalks free of serious collisions and fatalities, we’ve seen the program grow into one of the largest volunteer organizations in the province. Today more than 16,000 patrollers now watch over 500 crosswalks just like the one at Rainbow Creek School in Chestermere. What starts in the crosswalk carries into our playgrounds, school hallways and communities. Patrollers help create that community safety culture where children and families look out for one another. For busy parents dropping off their children or distracted commuters heading to work on a cold, dark morning, the patrollers help remind us all to slow down, be cautious and get where we are going safe and sound.”
“With respect to the police, the Calgary Police Service has been involved with the program since 1937. The Traffic Education Unit, which consists of 8 Constables, trains the Calgary city patrollers. The Traffic Education Unit works with the patrollers, in addition to regular policing and education duties.”
O’Neill is very proud of the record of the School Patrols, stating: “No one injured or worse”. Super super job!” He mentioned that in his estimation school patrols were loyal, trustworthy and really good friends.
At the conclusion of O’Neill talk he happily presented the patrollers with badges commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the School Patrols.
Not to over state the responsibility these young people have but they are putting themselves in harms way each and every time they enter the roadway to assist their classmates in crossing the street safely. We owe it to these dedicated youngsters to take them seriously, respect the job they are doing and obey their directions at all times.
So here is a great big pat on the back to all the school patrollers past and present for doing a terrific job. Thank you!