Block Parents is making a comeback in Montreal. Although the popularity of this safety program reached its peak nearly 20 years ago, local groups are resurfacing in neighbourhoods across the country, including chapters in Montreal and the West Island.
According to Pointe-Claire chapter organizer Tara Stainforth, the borough’s small-community feel makes it the perfect launch pad for the West Island.
“We know it takes a village to raise children,” says Stainforth, who helped bring the neighbourhood watch service of her youth back to the West Island four years ago. “We want our young kids to feel safe when they ride their bikes around the neighbourhood.”
Becoming a Block Parent is simple: once potential volunteers pass a police background check, committee members visit their home to ensure it is safe and to ask a variety of questions. Block Parents don’t actually need to be parents but must be over 18.
Once approved, members are asked to place a sign in their windows, signaling that their homes are safe places for children to wait for help if they are hurt, lost or scared. The program is intended to provide safety and support to children and
seniors but volunteers will help anyone in need. Block Parents are not required to intervene in fights, provide meals, first aid or transportation or open their doors to anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.
While the Pointe-Claire chapter has enlisted approximately 60 members since its inception, Stainforth explains that a lack of interest in volunteering has stalled its progression. “We’ve had a great response over the years but recruitment has been difficult and that limits us,” she said.
The committee spreads awareness through various events, including the annual open house, which takes place at Cedar Park Chalet in the spring. Kids can enjoy face-painting and a bouncy castle while parents gather information on the program.
Representatives also set up a table every year at the Pointe-Claire Halloween party, held at Arthur Séguin Park Rink, where they provide glow sticks and safety tip sheets for children. Their presence is in conjunction with the Block Parents Safety Week, which takes place the week before Halloween and encourages community services to spread information about safety.
If you are interested in becoming a Block Parent, visit: parentssecours-pc.ca.