The Block Parent program of Canada, which originated in London in 1968, is celebrating its history in 2013. And the St. Marys Kinette Club, sponsors of the program in St. Marys, is hoping to use the attention being created by the 45th anniversary celebration to encourage more people to become Block Parents.
“It’s Block Parent Week from Oct. 20-26, and their theme this year is ‘Celebrate our Past; Become our Future’,” explained Kinette Club representative Terri Iredale, in a call to the Journal Argus last week.
A news release from the organization, which operates across Canada as well as through an affiliate in Belgium, describes Block Parents as “the longest running safety program in Canada. Our easily recognizable sign, with its red and white logo, symbolizes the safety and security over 25,000 volunteers provide to those in need. It also symbolizes the close relationship our volunteers have with police and educators to provide this immediate assistance.”
According to Iredale, there are two Block Parents currently in St. Marys, and the Kinettes “are trying to re-spark some interest in it. We’re looking for more.”
She adds that “it’s not just targeted for kids any more. It’s also about bullying; it’s for seniors who are feeling unsafe or in need.”
Screening by police is a requirement for anyone over the age of 12 in a family with a Block Parent sign in their window. The sign is shown only when someone over the age of 18 is available to answer the door. If the sign is not displayed, this does not mean that no one is home, only that the Block Parent is not available to offer immediate assistance.
A Block Parent may be called upon to offer their home as a place of safety when someone is in a dangerous or frightening situation such as being bullied; being lost, hurt or ill; being caught in severe weather; or being frightened by a stranger. Assistance may come in the form of a call to the appropriate emergency service when necessary.
Block Parent volunteers are not expected, however, to provide food, drink or toilet facilities; provide transportation; administer first aid; leave their home to break up a fight; or open their door to anyone if they feel uneasy about the situation.
If anyone is interested in St. Marys, they email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“During National Block Parent Week, we encourage families and small businesses (in the Business Block Parent program) to become a Block Parent and help us to continue to protect communities coast to coast,” states the Block Parent news release. For information, visit www.blockparent.ca.