Five Gold Stars For Safety Smarts

Pipestone Flyer

  In the August 15th edition of Pipestone Flyer, it was reported: “…While (Warburg) Council agreed to support the (Alberta Farm Safety Centre’s Safety Smarts) program with a $300 donation because of the good it can do, there is some concern that 75% of the program cost goes to administration rather than actual programming. Responding to that concern, Council is requesting a detailed copy of the future AFS budget.”  

        In a phone call with Laura Nelson, spokesperson for AFSC, Nelson expressed concern over the citation of a councillor’s remark during discussion—saying that the phrase “75% of the program cost goes to administration” is a gross misrepresentation that could have negative repercussions for this excellent Farm Safety program. 

        To clarify, the expenditures of the AFS “Safety Smarts” Program $400,000 budget (as seen by Warburg Council on August 12, 2013) follow: 

        “A detailed budget for this program will be provided upon request.  Listed are our approximate annual expenditures: Regional instructors time and mileage: $250,000; Take-home review resources provided to children: $50,000; Safety Smarts administration and coordination $80,000; Offices expenses and overhead $20,000; Insurance, accounting, technical support: $15,000; Replacement and repair of in-class delivery equipment $10,000.”  

        These numbers do not show that the Alberta Farm Safety Centre’s administration is taking or even might be taking “75% of the programming budget.”  Regrettably, the councillor did not publicly identify nor red-flag any specific line-item examples that led him to make the remark before Council called for a detailed budget looksee.    

            So was Councils’ concern justified? At the September 9, 2013 Regular Council meeting, Council stated they had reviewed the detailed budget for “Safety Smarts” program and expressed no concern whatsoever.  Indeed, they praised the program.  

        “Safety Smarts” is now in its 16th year—and, lest there be any doubt, has operated with approved financial audits. 

 

Some “Safety Smarts” factoids: 

        

    Often youth, especially younger children, are not fully aware of the many potential hazards presented by rural living. “Safety Smarts” increases hazard awareness and the student’s ability to make informed decisions.  

        In the 2012-2013 school year, seven regional instructors traveled 127,612 kilometers bringing “Safety Smarts” free of charge to 52,529 elementary students in 2,635 rural classrooms. 

        An on-line evaluation tool, “Survey Monkey,” was used to collect classroom teacher evaluations of program content, relevance, and value to their students along with quality and effectiveness of delivery methods.  1,530 evaluations were completed with 99% of teacher rating “Safety Smarts” as “extremely important” or “important.” 

             Rewards? For Nelson and the team of instructors, there are many. But one is foremost. Nelson explains with a story: A parent called expressing thanks for “Safety Smarts.” After their kids evaluated the horseback riding risks, they insisted on wearing helmets (this was just a few weeks prior). So when their horse kicked unexpectedly, thankfully it was only the helmet that broke in two! Nelson revealed there have been several similar phone calls that validate “Safety Smarts” raison d’tere—calls that say, “Thanks to you, my child is alive today!”

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