OPP commends Hallowe’en initiative
Betty Anne Johnson, with Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services, recently was commended by OPP Superintendent Ron van Straalen, regional commander of the North West Region, for her work with “Project Safe Hallowe’en.”
“I am deeply honoured,” said Johnson, who is supervisor of strategic and quality initiatives for the KRRDCFS.
“It has my name on [the commendation] but so many people participate in this,” Johnson stressed.
“We had staff in every one of our six offices helping out.”
“Project Safe Hallowe’en” was started more than 10 years ago by agency staff in Rainy River District. With the amalgamation of the Kenora and Rainy River agencies, it grew last year to include Dryden, Ignace, Kenora, Sioux Narrows, Sioux Lookout, and Red Lake.
Staff and community members worked with local police services to hand out glow sticks as well as give safety presentations to close to 8,000 children in both districts.
Thanks to a grant from the Moffat Family Fund here in Fort Frances, the 10th anniversary of the program was marked with an intermediate dance at Robert Moore School on Hallowe’en, which saw more than 300 students from Robert Moore, St. Francis, and J.W. Walker attend.
KRRDCFS staff donned costumes to supervise the event, which featured a DJ, prizes for best costumes, pizza, and glow sticks.
“It was a great event,” Johnson recalled.
She noted her longest-standing partner has been local OPP A/Sgt. Anne McCoy, and together they try to figure out new ways each year to serve more and more children in the region.
Other partners involved include the Treaty #3 Police Service, Northwestern Health Unit, and Safe Communities Rainy River District.
In his letter of commendation, Supt. van Straalen wrote: “I recognize ‘Project Safe Hallowe’en’ as a joint initiative to bring awareness to our community members regarding the importance of keeping our children safe and visible during Hallowe’en.
“And, as a member of KRRDCFS, we see the dedication of you and your organization to ensuring the safety and well-being of every child by providing effective services to children and families.
“Betty Anne, thank you for taking the initiative to new heights this year as you worked to see the project expand from the Rainy River District to a regional initiative.
“My officers tell me of how you invited the OPP to continue with the initiative to see the project to fruition,” he said.
Supt. van Straalen said Johnson helped make the glow stick program possible through a successful application to the Moffat Family Fund, as well as by engaging businesses and organizations to help raise the target goal of $8,000 to see that glow sticks could be purchased for every child aged three-14.
He also noted Johnson helped co-ordinate the distribution of safety materials and glow sticks to enable her team to deliver safety presentations to pre-schools and schools in the two districts.
“The success of the partnership is phenomenal,” wrote Supt. van Straalen.
“On behalf of the Ontario Provincial Police and our policing partners, I would like to extended my sincere thanks to you for your dedication to this worthwhile project.
“Our officers appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this team and feel the project has helped all involved build relationships with our communities while delivering an important safety message to students, schools and families,” he added.
Johnson said “Project Safe Hallowe’en” will continue this year.
In fact, organizers already are working on lining up funding and will hold their first meeting this month.