Abbotsford Police and Fire Rescue join forces for Youth at Risk

Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS) and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) are entering a competition that they hope will result in $100,000 in winnings to develop a program they have dubbed Youth at Risk.

Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson (left) and Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service Insp. Martin Sunderland have joined forces for the Youth at Risk program.

Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson (left) and Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service Insp. Martin Sunderland have joined forces for the Youth at Risk program.

Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS) and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) are entering a competition that they hope will result in $100,000 in winnings to develop a program they have dubbed Youth at Risk.

The program combines multi-media presentations that the two agencies, until now, had been running independently – one on fire safety and the other on road safety.

AFRS Insp. Martin Sunderland said if they win the 2011 Aviva Community Fund competition, which begins Oct. 3, the money will be used to develop these programs over the Internet so they are more easily accessible to parents, teens and teachers.

A presentation of Youth at Risk takes place Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way.

Sunderland created and developed the AFRS portion to educate young people about the dangers of fire and risk-taking.

He said kids sometimes try to mimic the behaviours they see online or in movies, without considering the consequences, or they act out of boredom.

“We’re hoping that at least by giving them the tools, they can take a minute to think about what they’re doing and analyze their situation.”

The APD portion is the brainchild of Const. John Davidson, a school liaison officer who was concerned about the number of serious and fatal car crashes that involved teens in the community, particularly in 2008 and 2009.

The road safety program includes a presentation from Christina Thrasher, whose sister, Jess, was killed when the car in which she was a passenger hit a patch of black ice and ran into a telephone pole in January 2008.

The presentation also includes the showing of several public service messages from the U.K. that offer graphic depictions of car crashes.

Davidson said the goal is to remind teens to think about how their decisions – such as speeding or not wearing a seatbelt – can change their lives.

Sunderland said because he and Davidson were relaying similar messages, they thought it would be a good idea to combine resources.

One of the Youth at Risk slogans is “Decisions change your life in a split second.”

They are now entering the Aviva Community Fund competition, which awards a total of $1 million across Canada for ideas that will have a positive impact in their communities.

The public can vote for their favourite on the website avivacommunityfund.org, starting Oct. 3. AFRS and APD will enter the category to receive up to $100,000 in funding.

The semi-final round begins Dec. 5, and the most popular ideas will compete in the finals, with the winners being selected by a panel of judges and announced Jan. 25.

Those planning to attend the presentation tonight are asked to RSVP to aviva@abbotsford.ca or call 604-864-5650.

 

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