A seatbelt blitz was held in Grenfell last week, as part of ongoing efforts to keep residents safe and hopefully win $50,000 for the town at the same time.
On Friday, June 10, Desmond Street was swarming with high school students, EMT, RCMP and SGI representatives, who combined their efforts to conduct a series of check stops to make sure all drivers and passengers were safely buckled up. The event was part of the ongoing SGI Seatbelt Challenge between Grenfell, Whitewood and Kipling, the winner of which will receive $10,000 to $50,000 to use for improving the safety of local streets. The total amount awarded to the win will depend on a business plan submitted by the town, outlining the improvements they plan to make.
Fifteen Grade 10 students from the Grenfell High Community School Canoe Club and Outdoor Education were on hand to help direct traffic and hand out free gifts to drivers, assisted by GHCS teacher Ryan Whalley.
“This is such a positive opportunity, for them to be here and to show that they’re responsible young people,” Whalley said, adding, “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Several months ago, the school held a check stop to count the number of drivers and passengers wearing seatbelts. They will do the same again in September and compare the numbers from the two check stops. The town that sees the greatest increase in seatbelt usage from one check stop to the next will win the challenge.
Members of J.T. Ambulance Service in Grenfell were also in attendance, directing traffic and getting the word out about the importance of seatbelt safety.
“We see, quite often, fatalities that could have been prevented by simply doing up a seatbelt,” said owner and EMS worker Tyler Carles. “That’s why we wanted to support the kids and SGI just by getting that message out there.”
Marilyn Hamnett from SGI in Grenfell was also on hand to show her support, and was impressed with how well it was going.
“It’s been great. The community is participating and stopping. And the students are handing out prizes – it’s kind of different to get stopped and then get a prize instead of a ticket,” Hamnett laughed. “So it’s good, it’s a fun thing.”
The First Nation communities of Cote, Fishing Lake and Keeseekoose are currently taking part in their own seatbelt challenge.
Kelley Brinkworth, Manager of Media Relations for SGI, stressed the importance of the message that they hope to convey with the challenge.
“The important thing is to wear your seatbelt because we know that seatbelts save lives, and they also cut the risk of death or injury in a collision in half. One of our priorities in our traffic safety strategy is to increase the use of seatbelts, and also child safety seats.”
The winner of the seatbelt challenge will be announced in November.