The Block Parent Program is coming to Steinbach and La Broquerie.
Keri Rosevar says she recalls as a child seeing a lot of Block Parent signs in windows. But, without that program in either Steinbach or La Broquerie today, Rosevar questions where young people are supposed to go if they encounter trouble while walking in a neighbourhood.
"Is somebody watching out for these kids?" asks Rosevar. "I looked into just becoming a Block Parent myself, but there was no program in Steinbach or La Broquerie. So, I'm going to start one up."
The Block Parent Program operates with volunteers, to create a safe place for those in distress. It is particularly geared towards children, but Rosevar says it can also be used by seniors or vulnerable populations.
The way it works is households sign up to be a Block Parent. Rosevar says you must be over the age of 18 to sign up and must then pass an RCMP screening. Once you are approved, you simply place your Block Parent sign in the window when you are home, letting the public know that you are available should someone need a safe place.
"There are many reasons you might reach out to go to a Block Parent home," explains Rosevar. "You'd go there if maybe you're feeling somebody is following you, you don't feel safe, maybe you are being bullied, you're lost or frightened of an animal."
When a child shows up at a Block Parent home, the homeowner will then contact the parent or guardian or RCMP, depending on the circumstance. Rosevar points out that a Block Parent will not be expected to administer first aid or provide transportation.
But, as mentioned, Rosevar says the program is not only meant for children who need help. She says seniors and vulnerable populations might need a safe place, or it could be an option for someone whose car broke down or who got caught in severe weather.
"Which I think is great because if I was broken down somewhere and I didn't know where to go, now I know that I can go to a Block Parent and get help from them, rather than just knocking on anyone's door," she adds.
Rosevar is now going around, creating awareness of the program. She notes there has been a lot of positive feedback from people wanting to take part. But, Rosevar says she is finding that she is also doing a lot of educating to let people know exactly what the program is all about. As part of her awareness campaign, Rosevar says she will be dropping by schools and senior centres.
"I want to make the community aware," she says. "When I grew up it was more focused on children, which it still is. But it's (also) for seniors and those that are vulnerable."
Rosevar says her goal is that every block in Steinbach and La Broquerie has two Block Parents. She says these signs in the windows will provide a sense of security for children to know that there is a safe place to go if they are ever in trouble.
"It is a great program to have in the community to keep our communities safe, especially in the way things are today with children going missing," says Rosevar. "The more Block Parents, the safer it is."
Rosevar says right now her organizing group is looking for volunteers and for those wishing to help out financially. Anyone interested can contact her at 204-294-2226.
With files from Carly Koop
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