Students waiting in line at Sowchea Elementary School show off their reflective bracelets.

FSJ initiative gains national attention

The local “Be Seen, Be Safe” Reflective Bracelet Campaign has increased safety, and the results are visible, but not only on our streets.

The local “Be Seen, Be Safe” Reflective Bracelet Campaign has already increased safety in Fort St. James, and the results are visible, but not only on our streets.

The arm bands can be seen around town on all ages of area residents, thanks to the efforts of Sowchea Elementary students in Mrs. Madhok’s Grade 6 class.

“I’ve been seeing (the armbands) everywhere,” said Constable Lance, who has been working with the kids since the beginning of the campaign, which was inspired by the tragic death of 11-year-old Nolan Alexis on Highway 27 on the Nak’azdli Reserve.

An article written by their Principal Cam McCormick and a photo taken by The Courier’s Ruth Lloyd will be published in a number of places, getting the students exposure nationally, and maybe even internationally.

The goal is to highlight the success of the program, and the initiative the students showed in reacting to tragedy in their community, according to Lance.

He said the full page article should appear in The Quarterly, the official magazine of the RCMP Veteran’s Association, The Pony Express, an internal national magazine for members of the RCMP, and will be submitted to Blue Line Magazine, a national law enforcement magazine. The article will also be posted online on the bc.rcmp.ca website, giving it even greater reach.

This is the story which will be giving the students the press across the country:

Every parent knows the feeling of helplessness and nausea seeing a child dashing across a roadway full of traffic.

November 4, 2011 was such a day for the twin communities of Fort St. James and Nak’azdli First Nation.

Nolan Alexis, a grade 6 student at David Hoy Elementary School, was hit and killed by a vehicle as he ran across a dark and busy Highway 27.

The tragedy affected everyone in the community. Many of the students in the Grade 6/7 class at Sowchea School were all grieving but focused their sadness on making a change and wanted to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

Collectively, the class decided that they needed to do something about the situation.

They wanted kids to be safe and decided that they would purchase reflective bracelets for every child in Fort St. James, Nak’azdli, Tl’azten, and Yekoochee First Nations.

RCMP Constable Jeffrey Lance, school liaison officer for Sowchea Elementary School met with the students and supported them in their quest by providing the guidance and steps necessary to set their plan in motion.

Four of the students met with Georgina Alexis, Nolan’s mom, who lived and worked in the Tl’azten community of Tache.

They told her of the “Be Seen Be Safe” project aimed to educate and promote traffic safety in honour of Nolan’s memory.

The students returned with an even stronger commitment to their project after hearing Georgina’s expression of extreme sadness for the loss of her child and the praise for their project that could prevent another tragedy.

Despite their fears and shyness the students met with a number of community service agencies to request letters of support.

The Northern Traffic Safety Coordinator for ICBC sent the students a letter of support and provided them with their first forty reflective snap bracelets.

After learning about fund raising techniques the students with the assistance of the Sowchea School Parent Advisory Committee, organized a family movie night which raised nearly $400 towards the purchase of reflective bracelets.

Students then sent out business letters promoting their goal and were humbled with the number of donations and letters of support they received.

In order to promote and advertise their project they designed posters on a Traffic Safety Theme and approached the Caledonia Courier local newspaper.

The newspaper provided publicity through articles and advertising space. The local community college, College of New Caledonia – Fort St. James assisted by printing all the large posters in colour.

Two thousand of the reflective bracelets were ordered and posters were printed and laminated.

The first school to have the “Be Seen Be Safe” presentation was Eugene Joseph School in Tache, Nolan’s home community.

Every student was given a reflective bracelet which they accepted with excitement and wore them proudly.

The project also created talk at the Highschool level and the bracelets were introduced to the Fort St. James Secondary School. Highschool students and Elementary students proudly wear their reflectors on their boots, ankles, wrists, arms, hats and backpacks.

Regardless if it is for fashion or for safety, students are wearing the reflective bracelets and can now be seen by motorists and are safe when following the traffic laws

“These students amazed me with their passion and determination. ‘ Stated Cst. Jeff Lance of the Fort St. James Detachment “They have created a project that the entire community has embraced and I truly believe they have made a difference.”’”

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