Had it not been for the safety lessons he learned in the classroom many years ago, Connie Bailey’s son might not have survived a farming accident.
The auger he was operating on the family farm struck a power line, with the electrical jolt powerful enough to pop the tires on the machine. He later told his mom that the safety demonstrations and lessons he learned as a young student informed him about what to do during that scary incident.
Bailey, the president of Saskatchewan School Boards Association, shared this story with a couple dozen politicians and local and provincial dignitaries Tuesday morning in Moose Jaw for the launch of the Community Education Strategy (CSES), one of the first of its kind to be introduced in Canada.
“The safety landscape is changing in Prairie South,” said Tony Baldwin, the director of education for Prairie South School Division (PSSD), where it will be a pilot project.
CSES is not a list of new rules and regulations, but rather a strategy to change the attitudes and culture in Saskatchewan so that injury prevention is a core value.
Bailey and guests gathered to provide their support to the announcement. Other speakers were Don Morgan, the Saskatchewan Minister of Education and Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Gord Moker, the CEO of Safe Saskatchewan, Derrick Huschi, a superintendent for PSSD, and Tom Kishchuk, the vice-president of operational support with Federated Co-operatives Limited.
“If we instill a greater sense of safety in our kids then that’s where the change is going to come from,” said Shawn Davidson, the chairperson for PSSD. “This (project) means a lot to our board and we’re excited to be the home of this important initiative.”
The timing of this strategy announcement comes at a time when close to 200,000 school-aged children and teachers return to classrooms throughout the province.
Baldwin noted that in 2015 the PSSD experienced 58 preventable workplace injuries to staff and 193 to students.
“The Community Safety Education Strategy will allow us to focus the work we have been doing more clearly on the problem,” Baldwin said. “CSES will allows us to engage students, teachers, parents and staff members and community and business and government and anyone else who can help us to be a provincial leader in school and workplace safety and an exemplar for other school divisions in the future.”
Children and youth can play a significant role in the cultural shift and the influencing of adults. As they grow to become adults themselves, they will embrace and share their knowledge, values and behaviours far into the future – on the job, with their families, and in their communities.
“If we win the youth, we’ll win the future,” said Michael Schlaug, president and plant manager at Yara Belle Plaine, an organization that made a significant donation to the CSES project.
Not only is Yara a strategic partner, but its financial contribution will cover half of the CSES co-ordinator position, which is held by Barb Compton.
Compton will serve in this role from September 2016 through June 2017. She is accountable for contributing to the attainment of the CSES goals in Prairie South School Division, enabling the CSES vision of an injury-free Saskatchewan where safe lifestyles influence how we live, learn, work and play.
The CSES was developed to help young people learn the importance of preventing injuries. This framework focuses on injury prevention, safety resources and supports for students in Saskatchewan’s K-12 education system. It provides students the opportunity to develop life skills, to evaluate information and community norms, and to question personal assumptions about injury prevention and responsibility.
The statistics aren’t flattering when it comes to unintentional injuries in Saskatchewan.
The majority of these injuries occur outside of the workplace and after normal work hours. And anyone is susceptible, from children and youth to seniors. And the cost of injury burden equates to approximately $1,000 annually for every man, woman, and child in the province.
“Maybe it’s a part of the psyche in Saskatchewan, to get things done but not always pay attention to safety,” Morgan said. “We need to do a better job with that.”
The hope is that this pilot project will be adopted in the future by other school divisions throughout the province.
“The only acceptable number for preventable injuries is zero,” Moker added.