Making BC Better
Safety and community are at the heart of BCAA, and giving back is part of our DNA. What does that mean? For more than a century, we have been working to make a difference in BC communities. That’s true whether we’re out there advocating for road safety by handing out free Slow Down signs, educating British Columbians about cannabis-impaired driving or building safe play spaces for kids across the province. BCAA is committed to keeping British Columbians safe, on and off the road.
Beyond the road: a force for social good
How does all of this happen? BCAA Membership is not-for-profit, so we can direct any earnings into improving our business – and back into BC communities. “Our programs build stronger communities, keep our roads safe and improve the lives of British Columbians,” says Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement. By paying for a Membership, you invest in your own backyard. “Because of you, we can give back, we can help, we can protect,” he adds. “We’re incredibly grateful to BCAA Members for allowing us to make this kind of difference.”
Room to run around: BCAA Play Here
Leanne McKinnon was one of six “motivated mothers” in Mackenzie who led her town’s campaign to win BCAA Play Here, an annual initiative that awards $100,000 play-space revitalizations to BC communities. In June 2018, BCAA announced Mackenzie was a winner, and our team got to work, helping residents transform a rough field of grass behind the local rec centre into the play space of their dreams. Today, it’s a kid’s fantasy playground, decked out with swings, slides, ladders, rocks, ropes and play houses.
“We look at that playground as the start of a fabulous accessible space for people in the community to congregate,” says McKinnon. “It’s really nice, because finally, you’re taking your kid to play and, oh, there are other kids here, and other parents, too. Suddenly your child is getting the full benefits of being at a playground, which are not just physical, but social as well.”
Squad goals: BCAA School Safety Patrol
One of BCAA’s longest standing community endeavours is also one of our most visible. Have you seen neon-vested little troopers ushering kids and families along school crosswalks? They’re most likely BCAA School Safety Patrollers, a group that much like the auto club, has been around for more than 100 years nationwide, since the early days of automobiles.
Regional Traffic Safety Officer Dave Gibson has been training student patrollers on our behalf in the Okanagan since 2008. The program creates safer school zones, he says, but it also endows students with leadership skills and safety smarts they can take into the wider world.
“It gives the kids a sense of responsibility, of feeling they’re doing good within their community and giving back something to the community,” he says.
Sharing the Love
Read through the annual BCAA Community Report Card to see the impact we made in the lives of British Columbians, thanks to our Members.
Precious cargo: safe car seats for kids
When it comes to giving back, Perinatal Support Worker Lana Hergott is on the front lines. And when she calls BCAA’s car seat program “lifesaving,” she isn’t exaggerating. Installed and used correctly, car seats lower the risk of collision-related child fatalities by 71 per cent and serious injury by 67 per cent. That’s why BCAA has been out there teaching families how to safely buckle in little ones for nearly 20 years. We also donate car seats to BC families each year in partnership with the United Way; a total of 10,000 over the last five years.
Hergott works for Chilliwack Community Services, one of the organizations that received car seats in 2018, and has witnessed the results firsthand. “If you don’t have a car seat to transport your baby around, you either become very isolated, or you might make decisions that aren’t so safe,” she says. Safe car seats allow families to get around to places that might otherwise be inaccessible: doctor’s offices, food banks, libraries, kids’ programs. “What it really does is open the door to so many more family supports than [our clients] would otherwise receive,” says Hergott.
A United Force
BCAA has been supporting the United Way for more than two decades. In the last five years alone, BCAA and its employees have raised $1.4 million for United Way programs.
Injuries prevented, lives saved
UBC professor and injury-prevention researcher Dr. Ian Pike says BCAA has “a wonderful story to tell” about the many lives it has enriched. He just wishes more people had heard it. Pike is Director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, and Co-executive Director and Spokesperson for the Community Against Preventable Injuries, and he has collaborated with us for decades on everything from BCAA Play Here to school-zone and car-seat safety.
There’s no doubt in his mind that the work has saved lives, too. Take neighbourhood safety: over the last five years, BCAA has handed out more than 11,000 “Slow Down Kids Playing” signs. We have also worked tirelessly to educate drivers about the perils of speeding and distraction in school zones.
“While we can’t necessarily measure what we’ve prevented, in my opinion, if we took this program away, we would see an increase in car-pedestrian conflicts and child-related injuries,” says Pike.
Thanks to BCAA Members, that isn’t going to happen. “We want to thank our Members, sincerely,” says Pettipas, “because without you, none of this would be possible.”