THREE DECADES AGO, I ATTENDED AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN SOUTHWEST CALGARY AND I CAN STILL RECALL THE TRAGIC LOSS OF MY CLASSMATE.
One sunny afternoon, Hamish rode his bike home from school. On a quiet street corner, within our school zone, a car failed to stop and struck Hamish off his bike. Sadly, he lost his life that day. His younger sister and family were terribly heartbroken. The entire school community felt such grief from the loss of such a young, sweet, and innocent boy. In his memory, the school created a sportsmanship award.
Such tragedy continues across Canada and the statistics are staggering. 30 child pedestrians and 20 children on bicycles are killed every year – along with injuries to over 2,400 child pedestrians and 1,800 children on bicycles (Source: Parachute). These stats are intolerable. We need meaningful road safety action to end the loss of life involving classmates, friends, siblings, daughters, sons, and simply innocent kids.
Could Hamish’s life been spared because of road safety measures addressed by the school and surrounding community? Whether you drive, bike, or walk road safety starts with each one of us.
Meaningful solutions begin with road safety programs that aim to tackle dangerous roads and school zones across Canada empowering individuals and local communities. On-the-ground projects that implement tangible solutions to reduce serious injuries and fatalities are possible. Children can and should feel safe when traveling to and from school.
An elementary road safety initiative.
As an Aviva Canada employee on the Corporate Responsibility team, I’m proud that we’ve partnered on an Elementary Road Safety Program with Parachute - Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention. This program aims to create safer school zones in communities across the country. Over the next five years, 20 schools from across Canada will be selected to each receive $10,000 and program support dedicated to making tangible environmental changes to improve road safety in their school zones.
"The Elementary Road Safety Program aims to create safe school zones in communities across the country. Children can and should feel safe when traveling to and from school."
In late 2019, the first three schools selected for the program were St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Elementary School (Vaughn, Ontario), Phoebe Gilman Public School (East Gwillimbury, Ontario), and St. Stephen Catholic School (Ottawa, Ontario).
Together, with Parachute, we also developed the online Elementary Road Safety Guide for other schools and communities to access and learn about the steps they can take to improve road safety in their local school zones. If this Guide existed in the 90s, perhaps, Hamish might still be with us today.
You can be part of the road safety movement in your community. Click here to join us in the mission to make safer roads a reality for all.
-Elizabeth Wood, Aviva Canada employee