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Crossfield Block Parent program seeks volunteers

In December 2017, a group of Crossfield residents revived the Block Parent program within the community – now, organizers are looking for volunteers to put the recognizable signs in their windows and offer support to their neighbours.
Parade promotion
Crossfield Block Parent is looking for volunteers to participate in the new program, and attracted attention in the Pete Knight Days parade June 9.

In December 2017, a group of Crossfield residents revived the Block Parent program within the community – now, organizers are looking for volunteers to put the recognizable signs in their windows and offer support to their neighbours. “I saw people asking around about protection for their kids and a way to deter possible criminal activity, so I started looking into the Block Parent program,” said Marcia Hayes, Crossfield Block Parent program chair. “That was last fall, and all of a sudden, I was organizing a Crossfield Block Parent program.” The program provides safe spaces around the community where people can go if they need help, Hayes said. While the program is geared toward children, it can be a valuable resource for teenagers and seniors, as well. “If someone is being bullied, or if they’re being followed by someone they don’t know, or if they feel lost and they don’t know where to go – this gives them a safe place where they can go to get help,” she said. “You just need to look for the sign.” To receive official status as a recognized member of Alberta Block Parent, Hayes said she needed to form a committee of at least two people, so she recruited some friends to join her in her mission. Once they had all passed criminal record checks and completed all the necessary paperwork, the program was up and running – just two months later. Currently, Hayes said eight homes within Crossfield have applied for the Block Parent sign, but she is hoping to see the program expand until a sign is up on every block. “That’s a lot, with the town constantly growing, but I’m aiming to have at least that many,” she said. “The process to get a sign is actually quite simple, even with the amount of time it takes to get the paperwork done.” To apply to become a Block Parent, residents or businesses need to fill out a form and visit the RCMP. According to Hayes, anyone over the age of 12 will need a criminal record check, while those 18 and up also need a vulnerable sector check. The process goes through the Crossfield Block Parent program’s official RCMP liaison, Hayes added. “We do have a few companies in town who are interested in becoming Block Parents, which we’re pretty excited about,” she said. “It’s not ideal for businesses where there is continuous employee turnaround, because of the record checks, but it’s great for a business with a smaller number of established employees.” Being a Block Parent also doesn’t require a significant commitment, Hayes added. Block Parents have the freedom to decide for themselves when they want to display their sign to let the neighbourhood know they are available to provide a safe retreat. “It doesn’t have to be a specific time of day, and you don’t have to leave it up all night,” she said. “Just when you’re at home and you’re not busy, even if it’s just an hour a week, it really makes a huge difference for that somebody who might need it.” For more information about the program, or to apply to become a Block Parent, email crossfieldblockparent@gmail.com or search for Crossfield Block Parent on Facebook. “Being a Block Parent is about helping people and making your community a safer place to live,” Hayes said. “I remember seeing Block Parent signs all over when I was kid, growing up, but then it kind of tapered off. But I don’t want to see this program die – it’s a really great program that brings a lot to the community.”

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