By Michelle Poirier
Keswick resident Heather MacLaren has brought the Block Parent Program to Georgina to provide safe spaces for children, teens and seniors caught in dangerous or frightening situations.
According to blockparent.ca, the Block Parent Program is a registered charity and the largest volunteer-run child safety organization in Canada.
A Block Parent’s home, with the distinctive red and white sign in the window, offers a safe refuge for children, teens and seniors, who are lost, frightened or in distress.
A child, teen or senior can knock on the door, and the Block Parent will shelter them and call the appropriate emergency service (police, fire or ambulance) when necessary.
The window sign will only be up when someone over 18 is available to answer the door.
MacLaren came up with the idea after reading about teens being assaulted in Keswick.
“I started the Georgina Block Parent Community Program to give teens a safe place to go when they find themselves in a situation where they feel scared or in danger,” MacLaren said.
“I grew up in a household that was a part of the Block Parent Program back in the 80s, and I will always remember coming home from school and seeing the Block Parent sign in the window.”
“Knowing that my parents were willing to open up our home to the children in our community to go to for safety made me proud.”
Due to her efforts, there are now three Block Parent houses in Keswick.
MacLaren said she hopes to eventually see all 160 plus members of the Georgina Block Parent Community Facebook group with signs in their windows.
“I am currently working on creating a Google map that indicates the locations of each Block Parent home. So, when your son or daughter wants to go out, you can show them the location of a home they can go to in case of an emergency,” she said.
Block Parents are screened by the police and are given instructions on the program by local volunteers, the website says.
“I would love to see more homes across Georgina with signs in their windows. The more of us willing to keep children, teens and seniors safe, the better and safer they will be,” she said.
If you would like to join the Georgina Block Parent Community Program, you can email MacLaren at email@example.com or visit the Facebook page, Georgina Block Parent Community.
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