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Oct 21, 2019

5 min. read

A look at the history of CAA School Safety Patrollers in Manitoba.

If there's one uniform that draws both respect and smiles from road users, it’s that of CAA School Safety Patrollers. For 83 years, the program has kept students safe on their way to and from school.

CAA is proud to be the organization behind the program. But one individual deserves much of the credit for initiating this life-saving service. In 1936, Louise Staples, a teacher at Winnipeg’s Greenway School, was tasked with protecting students from heavy traffic coming from the nearby Minto Armoury. Staples formed a team of 14 students to patrol intersections around the school. On May 1, 1936, the squad was immortalized in Manitoba history as the first fully organized, officially recognized school safety patrol.

“Louise Staples is Manitoba’s founding mother of the school patrol program,” says Teresa Di Felice, assistant vice-president of government and community relations for CAA Manitoba. “Though it’s seen many changes, one thing remains the same: the focus on road safety and making sure all children get to school safely.”

Naturally, after 83 years, the program has been modernized to better serve school communities. In 1936, the Greenway team had to fundraise to pay for its uniforms—red and green felt arm badges. Today, CAA ensures that all patrollers have the resources they need, including training materials and bright vests. Local police services teach the CAA curriculum in schools.

With the aid of community partners, including the Winnipeg and Brandon Police Services, RCMP, Manitoba Public Insurance, and the Manitoba Moose and Brandon Wheat Kings, CAA honours the hard work of patrollers each year. Local businesses offer special discounts and benefits, annual award ceremonies in Winnipeg and Brandon honour top schools and patrollers, and fun events—like Moose and Wheat Kings games—thank our student volunteers for their time and commitment to road safety.

“Countless lives have been saved thanks to the dedication of these students. They’re up early and stay late to help their fellow schoolmates,” says Di Felice. “Road safety is something we all have to be mindful of—especially in busy school zones—but it’s the patrollers who step up and help their peers stay safe, while building respect for those school zones.”

From one school with 14 students to 8,500 patrollers across 250 schools in Manitoba, the CAA School Safety Patrol program has seen massive growth. Over the years, it’s taught children about philanthropy, leadership and responsibility. But its core principle still rings true today: students helping students.

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