Keeping our children safe

If you ever have to cross a street with this group of nursing students, they'll tell you when you've done it wrong.

Safety City, a local not-for profit organization that provides pedestrian and bicycle safety training to children age 6 to 12, is benefiting from a unique partnership with the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Health Sciences and its third- and fourth-year nursing students.

The two organizations are launching the second year of a successful partnership in which U of L students work with Safety City staff to deliver an expanded education program as part of their community health coursework.

The partnership means that Safety City can serve upwards of 50,000 children per year in southern Alberta, and be able to offer new and updated programs off-site as well as at the Safety City Training Facility, located at the east end of North Parkside Drive, just outside the north gate of the Lethbridge Exhibition grounds.

"The University of Lethbridge Faculty of Health Sciences and the nursing students have been instrumental in helping us keep our doors open," says Safety City executive director Linda Besseling.

Safety City has been delivering children safety programs to the community for the past 13 years. Over the past couple of years, Safety City experienced a cut in funding from some key donors, which resulted in a significant operational shortfall. This impacted the ability of Safety City to continue to offer the programs that are important to the children of our community and to their overall safety.

"Now, we are well on our way to becoming more sustainable, and the successful partnership between Safety City and the University of Lethbridge nursing program is a great example," says Besseling.

Students said the collaboration fits perfectly with the health promotion and injury prevention component of their program.

"We have been able to see a change in how the children cross the street in the short hour they are with us," says student Tabatha Vanderwekken. "This experience has been really rewarding just knowing we are helping to prevent injuries and save lives."

The students are also working on other projects, which include revising and improving programs, as well as researching how to deliver the programs to special-needs adults.

"We will present a final report to the Safety City board at the end of the semester," Vanderwekken says. "These different opportunities have allowed us to learn many new skills that we can use for the rest of our nursing careers."