Three local citizens were honoured recently for helping to make Red Deer and the region a safer place to call home.
It was National Safe Communities Day on Oct. 4 – an ideal chance to hand down the 2010 Ambassador for Safety Awards at Normandeau School, organizers say of the honours, which are spearheaded by Safe Communities Central Alberta.
“I consider it a great honour to have been nominated for the 2010 Ambassador for Safety Volunteer Partner award, and a greater honour to have received it,” said Eugene Kulmatycki.
“This award actually belongs to a large number of people, not jut an individual. It belongs to all the organizations and members that are a part of Safe Communities Central Alberta,” he said. “It shows the power of individuals working together towards a common good. When you work together for a cause, you can do something good.”
Kulmatycki has long been an advocate for bolstering safety, particularly among young people in the workplace.
“Young workers’ safety has always been a passion of mine,” he said, adding that those under 25 have four times the rate of injury that workers over 25 have.
Kulmatycki was first involved with Safe Communities Central Alberta through ‘What’s in it 4 U’ – an interactive safety workshop for young workers which was held in Red Deer back in 2005-06.
He also became an active member of the Young Farm Workers Safety Training Workshop held annually over the past five years.
“Young workers are also sometimes reluctant to stand up for their rights, so they get themselves in trouble because they don’t want to look bad in front of their new boss and other workers,” said Kulmatycki. “And yet they have those rights, so that’s what has kept me going.”
According to Safe Communities Central Alberta, preventable injuries are the leading cause of death and injury for those under the age of 45. Each week, Central Alberta communities see three injury-related deaths, 18 hospital admissions and 165 injury emergency department visits.
Meanwhile, this year’s theme for Safe Communities Central Alberta is ‘Be Visible’. Students who attended the presentation at Normadeau School were also reminded of a number of measures they can take including ‘Wear the Gear’ when it comes to biking, inline skating or skateboarding.
The children were also reminded to always ‘Be Visible’ by wearing bright clothing when out on their bikes and boards and to ‘Follow the Rules’ when it comes to staying safe on roads and sidewalks.
“The goal for National Safe Community Day is to bring attention to injury prevention, and the awards are a way of recognizing people who have been with Safe Communities Central Alberta for several years and work in their own way to prevent injuries,” said Karen Spruyt, coordinator.
Holding the event at an elementary school is also by design, as it’s essential to get the information to young audiences, she said.
“The schools are also some of our biggest partners, and we like to start that good safety information at this level and work it right on through.”
Also honoured at the event were Rick Lynch and Jackie McCullum for their work with Central Alberta Self Advocates.
The pair joined Safe Communities Central Alberta when they saw the chance to partner with the newly-formed Road Safety Committee in 2004.
Projects with Central Alberta Self Advocates have included poster campaigns encouraging proper crosswalk use, development of a road safety commercial, and a ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ campaign encouraging pedestrians, bikers and wheelchair users to use reflective gear and lights to enhance their visibility.
As for receiving the award, both McCullum and Lynch said it was a real honour to be recognized for something they both strongly believe in.
“I feel really great,” said McCullum, adding it’s about encouraging people to pay greater attention to their surroundings. “We just want to make sure people stay safe.”