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Aug 15, 2023

5 min. read

Two grade 7 students from Primrose Elementary School, in Mulmur, Ont. were recently named the CAA School Safety Patrollers of the Year for using their training to help fellow students evacuate safely from a bus after it slid into a ditch. The award recognizes the student volunteers who make an outstanding contribution to the nearly century-old school safety program.

Isabelle Wallace and Chase Rodgers have been involved with the CAA School Safety Patrol® program for two years, as bus patrollers and as kindergarten bus buddies. In March, they were part of a group of students who were involved in a crash after the school bus they were travelling in slid into a ditch. Both students calmly helped the driver evacuate the students through the rear emergency exit.

“When you pull up and you see the bus in the ditch all you think of is, ‘Is everyone OK?’” says Ashley Hopkins, the students’ Vice Principal and nominator. “We were extremely worried but happy to see that everyone was fine. Right off the bat we were told how great Chase and Isabelle had been. When you have four-year-olds on a bus without their parents, having someone who is older and calm telling you that everything is going to be OK, makes a huge difference.”

Both students are described as leaders among their peers with excellent attendance, good marks, a strong sense of volunteerism and a keen willingness to help others.

“Both Isabelle and Chase are very deserving of this award. They step up every day and care for the kids on the bus,” says Rob Hinbest, the students’ bus driver. “They are a tremendous help to me taking care of all of the kids on the bus and that helps me stay focused and keep everyone safe.”

The CAA School Safety Patrol program is CAA’s oldest traffic safety initiative.

The CAA School Safety Patrol program was created in 1929 as a way to make school zones safer. CAA’s strong community partnerships with police, schools, teachers and bus consortiums have ensured the program has remained vital and has continued to grow.

According to provincial data, approximately 1.4 million elementary school students in Ontario are commuting to and from school every day, making the CAA School Safety Patrol Program more relevant than ever.

“The program is not just about kids crossing the street, it’s about the foundations of behaviour, teamwork, volunteerism and leadership that make this program a success,” says Teresa Di Felice, Assistant Vice President, Government and Community Relations for CAA SCO. “CAA’s School Safety Patrol training teaches children life-long leadership skills on how to interact in a busy world, with the confidence to be able to act in emergency situations. Patrollers are trained to take command of a situation and that’s what we saw with Isabelle and Chase.”

Learn more about the CAA School Safety Patrol program and how to ensure safer school zones for everyone.

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