Community

Published on July 17th, 2013 | by Matthew

CAA School Safety Patroller Returns to Teach a New Generation

For Elizabeth Blenkarn, the split-second decision was an easy one to make.

Back in 2007, Elizabeth, then just 10 years old, was accompanying her fellow students on the bus ride home after another long school day. Shortly after departing Millgrove Public School, the bus made a sharp turn. A young kindergarten student fell, cutting his head.

The CAA School Safety Patroller leapt into action.

“I got up and moved to the front of the bus to help the boy,” said Blenkarn, now 16. “He had a huge gash on his head and was bleeding.”

Blenkarn administered first-aid, stopping the bleeding with tissues and comforting the boy while the bus driver returned to the school, where the boy’s parents were waiting.

The boy required stitches for his cut, but thanks to Blenkarn’s quick thinking, he would be okay.

“Whenever I saw him for the rest of the year, he would always smile and say ‘thank you for saving me,’” said Blenkarn.

Because of her quick thinking and selfless attitude, the Freelton girl was given the CAA South Central Ontario School Safety Patroller of the Year Award in 2008, a distinction that came as a complete surprise to her.

“I felt honoured that I had been chosen and…grateful so many people thought what I had done was such a big deal, because in my mind it wasn’t,” recalls Blenkarn. “I was just trying to comfort the boy.”

Now in Grade 11, the girl who loves to read and ride horses has the chance to mentor young students like herself this month when she attends the annual CAA School Safety Patrol Leadership Camp as a camp counselor.

For over 40 years, CAA has held the leadership camp for its School Safety Patrollers, teaching them how to be community leaders in addition to practical skills like first-aid and bus and fire safety. This year, more than 125 patrollers will attend camp from all across southern Ontario – Barrie and Toronto to London and Windsor, and many more towns in between. Once they complete the program, the children will return to their schools as Patrol Captains, tasked with ensuring the safety of their fellow students. The camp is run in partnership with police chaperones.

“Everyone at this camp is friendly, caring and approachable,” said Blenkarn. “The atmosphere is wonderful.”

Having attended the camp before, Blenkarn is certain new recruits will love their experience with the CAA School Safety Patrol Program as much as she has.

“I have become so much more of a leader (since) becoming a counselor and I am much livelier now. I hope after this experience (the kids) are better leaders, and others are able to see them as role models.”

“I can’t stress enough how important this program is to the community,” she added.

When asked what she was most looking forward to when attending camp this year, the award-winning patroller’s answer was heartfelt and direct.

“The reason I keep coming back is the people,” said Blenkarn. “Plain and simple.”

This year, the SSP Leadership camp takes place from July 16 – 19 at Camp Samac in the Durham region. You can keep up with the Patrollers’ events by following us on Twitter and Liking us on Facebook.

Want to learn more about CAA’s School Safety Patrol Leadership Camp? Click here to see photos from last year!

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