There continues to be no doubt the district deserves the title of a “Safe Community” after the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition scored a perfect 20 out of 20 for the third-straight time on the National Report Card from Safe Communities Canada.
Rainy River District scored a five out of five in four categories on the report card.
These scores were above the national averages of 4.1, 4.4, 4.4, and 4.9 in leadership, priority setting, sustainability, and community engagement, respectively.
The district also scored on par with, or in some cases above, the national average for organizations with an operating budget in the safety coalition’s range (i.e., $25,000-$75,000).
The average scores were 4.2, 4.6, 5.0, and 5.0 in leadership, priority setting, sustainability, and community engagement, respectively.
As well, Rainy River District improved its scores on a companion report card which measures indicators of international safe communities, as opposed to national ones.
These categories include infrastructure, program sustainability, priority population, data programs, evaluation, and networking.
Having scored a 2.5 in three categories (priority population, evaluation, and networking) last year, the safety coalition scored a five out of five in all six categories this time around.
These scores were above the national averages of 3.3, 3.3., 3.3, 4.0, 2.7, and 4.9 in infrastructure, program sustainability, priority population, data programmes, evaluation, and networking, respectively.
The district also scored above, or in one category on par with, the national average for organizations with an operating budget in the safety coalition’s range ($25,000-$75,000).
The average scores were 3.8, 3.9, 3.8, 4.4, 3.6, and 5.0 in infrastructure, program sustainability, priority population, data programmes, evaluation, and networking, respectively.
RRVSC administrative co-ordinator Grace Silander was thrilled with the results, especially with the fact they were able to find out where they could improve after last year’s report card and boost their scores on the international indicators.
“Now we made it. We got it,” she enthused. “We’re just excited.
‘We’ve done really well. We’re right up there.”
Silander said one example of where the safety coalition really stepped up over last year was the reusable shopping bag project at J.W. Walker School, which linked awareness with youth (a priority population).
Another example was working with the Rainy River Future Development Corp. to better network at conferences.
The report indicated the safety coalition is one of 18 Canadian Safe Communities to record a perfect score 20/20 attribute score.
The report also noted some of its community strengths include:
•having a broad range of community partners;
•recruiting new members to its leadership table in the past year (“an important strategy for maintaining organizational energy and momentum”);
•demonstrating leadership by committing to participate in initiatives designed to raise awareness about a safety issue or raise the profile of the leadership table;
•completing an evaluation of its effectiveness “as an agent of change” in its community during the past year;
•demonstrating its role as a champion in the community by committing to participate in initiatives designed to raise awareness about a safety issue, introduce a new program, and influence public policy;
•having a total of 22 injury prevention and safety promotion programs running in the community during the past year;
•demonstrating a strategic use of its resources, especially volunteers;
•having programs that have had an impact on increasing community awareness, increasing participation of priority populations, and encouraging behavioral changes in relation to the safety issue being addressed;
•securing funding from a variety of sources and expanding its reach and influence in the community, and “protecting itself from the consequences of reduction in single source financial support”;
•having 100 volunteers contributing 2,500 hours to its activities in the past year, and effectively using volunteers “to assist with administrative requirement, demonstrating a pragmatic approach to addressing organizational and administrative capacity”;
•involving local businesses either as members at the leadership, table or as sponsor of specific injury prevention, or safety promotion initiatives, or both, in the past year;
•undertaking a wide range of activities to engage its community in its safety priorities during the past year; and
•having 250 citizens in the community participating in various injury prevention and safety promotion program it has developed or championed last year.
Silander said the district municipalities are to thank for the safety coalition’s continued success.
“The municipalities have been so instrumental in backing us,” she noted. “Without their support, we would never be able to achieve these types of community scores.”
She also stressed the importance of district volunteers.
“Maybe at one given time you only have ‘x’ number of volunteers, but when you stop and look at what we do over the period of a year, there is huge numbers of volunteers that help us,” Silander explained.
“Each time we do the annual report, you step back and think, ‘We did that?’
“It gives you such pride when you see that happening,” she added.
Silander noted that having done so well on the report for three years running, the safety coalition will remain committed to keeping those high scores and continue to “do what we do best.”
She added the coalition is working to help other safe communities to achieve similar levels of excellence, and look beyond the district to increase partnerships.
“Sharing is one of the biggest things,” she remarked. “We’ve been deemed one of the top in Canada, and when people call us, we openly share and do what we need to do.
“That’s what it’s all about.”
The safety coalition, which covers 10 municipalities and nine First Nations, is a network of partners which collectively focuses on making the district a safer place to live, work, and play.
Numerous programs, ranging from bike helmet and car seat safety and Hallowe’en “glow sticks” to seniors’ safety and drug abuse prevention, are carried out by well over 20 partners such as the OPP, fire department, Family and Children’s Services, Rainy River District Substance Abuse Prevention Team, Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., and the local school boards, to name but a handful.
The RRVSC was designated as a “Safe Community” by Safe Communities Canada in 1999. At that time, there only were two other safe communities in Canada (Calgary and Brockville).
It then was designated by the World Health Organization in 2002, and re-designated in May, 2008.
The safety coalition also won the Safe Communities Canada Award of Excellence in both 2007 and 2008.
While it was not eligible to be nominated for a third year in a row, it will be next year, noted Silander, adding, “We may go for it in 2010.”