Arctic Safety & Save Smarts teams
The children of Great Whale River in northern Quebec are saving lives. Following a tragic accident in the community, students of Asimauttaq School (Inuit) and Badabin Eeyou School (Cree), were invited to take part in a public health campaign to encourage helmet wearing when riding off-highway vehicles, such as skidoos and ATVs. The children from Asimauttaq School named themselves Artic Safety, while students from Badabin Eeyou School called themselves Save Smarts.
The teams developed video and poster campaigns to educate community members, especially the younger generations, about the importance of wearing helmets. They met with local leaders, including police and emergency responders, and held fundraisers to finance the purchase of helmets until funding was secured. As a result, every school aged child in Great Whale River now has a helmet.
The project was met with many challenges. To this day, very few people in Northern Quebec are seen wearing helmets. Helmets are costly (and not always available in local stores), and individuals can feel stigmatized when they’re the only person wearing one. While many of the children felt uncomfortable or judged by their classmates, they continued to wear their helmets because they knew that it was the right thing to do. Their efforts resonated with other youth in the community. Parents and teachers report that the Artic Safety and Save Smarts teams have inspired other young people to wear helmets, with life-saving results.
The students of Artic Safety and Save Smarts have surpassed the adults in their community to become true ambassadors of prevention. We are proud to honour their remarkable leadership!