An all-ages, fun and interactive day is being planned inside the old Target store, and the focus will be on making our community safer.
The Public Safety Expo will help residents learn more about how to keep themselves, their families and their homes safe, on Saturday, Nov. 19. And the day truly includes something for everyone, from visits with the Safety Bear, tours and photo ops with Chilliwack’s first responders, and keynote speakers with some hard-hitting truths.
“This is not a fair where you walk around and get brochures,” says Leanna Kemp, Program Director of Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy. Instead, every exhibitor was asked to come up with something fun, educational and interactive to present to the public.
And the result is turning into a hands-on, engaging day, where kids, teenagers and adults of all ages will learn more about the community around them, and what public safety really means.
You could even say it’s turning into a safety-palooza.
Kids will be thrilled at the first responders on site, as the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, and the Justice Institute Ambulance Service will be bringing their vehicles right into the building. They’ll be allowed to explore these special vehicles close up, and even take a tour of an ambulance. Chilliwack firefighters will be there, too, but set up outside. They’ll even be bringing a very special guest — Santa Claus.
“The fire truck will be delivering Santa,” Kemp says, at about 11 a.m. “He will walk around the expo and meet with people and then people can go visit him at his home, at Cottonwood Mall.”
While all of that is sure to please the little ones, and the young at heart, there are plenty of reasons for everyone else to take a stroll through the massive expo. There will be yoga and self defense demonstrations, and a chance to learn about disaster relief with Jim McDonald, the emergency coordinator for the City of Chilliwack.
“There’s so much going on,” Kemp says, and getting other organizations on board was easy. Restorative Justice is just one of a few key groups involved, along with Chilliwack Crime Prevention Services.
Two special keynote speakers are on the agenda, starting with Children of the Street at 10:30 a.m.
Children of the Street provides young people with the knowledge and tools to keep themselves and their peers safe. They educate the community to recognize, react, and respond to sexual exploitation, and strive to change attitudes of those who create the demand for sexual exploitation and trafficking. They work with various levels of government and community partners for legislative changes, and they support youth and families by offering early intervention services to victims, families and services providers affect by sexual exploitation and trafficking.
The White Hatter team, Darren and Brandon Laur, will speak from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. about personal safety on the internet. They provide information and education regarding internet and social media safety and digital literacy, as well as training on the prevention of workplace violence. They are currently traveling and presenting cybersecurity workshops across the country. Darren Laur is a Staff Sergeant with the Victoria City Police Dept., and an internationally recognized safety expert.
Kemp is especially thrilled to have them speaking at the event, as she hopes more residents learn ways to protect themselves online. The list of participating organizations keeps growing, and she’s thrilled they have the use of the Target building at Cottonwood Mall.
It’s also a great place to launch the introduction of 529 Garage to Chilliwack, an app-based program that helps keep track of lost or stolen bikes. (See related story.) Kemp says they’re hoping families will choose to bike down to the event, where their bicycles can be safely stored with their bike valet system.
Speed Watch, Safer City, and others will also be there with activities to take part in, and the Restorative Justice crew will be selling their “Longest Running 50/50” tickets, and have a few more surprises and prizes in store.
As an added bonus, they are offering passports at the door. Visiting each presenter will earn a stamp, and those who fill their passports are eligible for a prize.
The Public Safety Expo runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the old Target building at Cottonwood Mall, on Saturday, Nov. 19.