WINNIPEG – Eighty years ago, the school patrol program was created by a teacher at Greenway School.
Louise Staples was worried about her young students navigating the heavy industrial traffic in the area.
So she mobilized a group of boys, gave them belts, and sent them out to the busy West End Streets to help their peers cross safely.
Since 1939, the program has expanded with more than 10,000 students participating across the province. CAA and MPI have gotten involved to support the programs and equip them with vests and flags.
Winnipeg police officers help train the city’s patrols. Patrol Sgt. Wendy Basic says the kids learn safety basics, but they also pick up important life skills.
“It gives them leadership skills and (teaches them to) respect their community and just to be kind to others really and be aware of what’s going on,” she said.
Greenway Principal Barbara Myron says their Grade 4 to 6 patrols have to learn to deal with lots of challenges.
“They need to be standing on the corner with sometimes people who aren’t as respectful as we’d hope they would be. Sometimes children are not paying attention to the rules and running across the street. The cars and the traffic can sometimes be a scary thing for them,” she said.
Kaitlynn Teixeira is a Grade 6 School Patrol Captain. She says the biggest challenge for her is Mother Nature.
“Being able to handle cold weather,” she smiled.
On Thursday, a time capsule was put together at Greenway, with a patrol flag, letters from school patrols and photos of their teams. It will be opened in 20 years – the 100th anniversary of the program.
A tree was also planted at the school in honour of patrols. They will be responsible for watering and taking care of it.
Basic has this message for drivers when they see the yellow vest.
“Just slow down. Our kids are our future so we want to protect them as much as we can,” she said.