Community Stories

Red Deer agencies accept the “challenge to change"

June 27, 2019

Red Deer community agencies and organizations accepted the “challenge to change” and came together last week to discuss community concerns and solutions at a Community Safety Summit, hosted by what will now be known as the Systems Leadership Team (SLT).

SLT is made up of representatives from Alberta Health Services, Children’s Services, The City of Red Deer, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, Red Deer Public Schools, Community Corrections, Red Deer RCMP and Urban Aboriginal Voices Society.

Participants heard what other communities in Canada are doing to build capacity for community safety, and engaged in workshops to discuss how agencies, organizations and systems can work together towards a safer Red Deer.

Scott McKean talking to an attentive crowd from a podium

The morning started with keynote speaker Scott McKean who shared his personal journey of working as a frontline worker and how the City of Toronto is working collaboratively with community groups and agencies to make positive change in their neighbourhoods.

McKean shared a story about how a group of mothers from one Toronto neighbourhood came up with a simple solution to increase their children’s safety and school attendance by starting a safe walk program. This program included a group of mothers that walk children to and from school daily, this simple action not only increased neighborhood safety, but also had a profound community impact. The enhanced connection between the parents and the school resulted in new services to the neighbourhood and increased wellbeing and safety of all residents.

“Change has to be intentional and it has to involve everyone,” said McKean, “Community safety is not about individual agencies and organizations, it’s about the sum of all the parts.”

To demonstrate the web of programs and services available to Red Deerians, summit participants heard real-life scenarios of three characters in need of help. They then passed yarn throughout the room to the various agencies and organizations that can provide the character with support. Within minutes, the yarn was draped throughout the room. The following discussions focused on how we, as a community, can maintain and build our resources efficiently and effectively to respond to complex issues and needs for a safer community.

In the afternoon, participants discussed how to build strategies for a safer community through a coordinated approach. SLT leaders committed to ongoing support for two-way communication models with the community and increased collaboration with agencies and organizations.

The message of the Community Safety Summit was loud and clear; the status quo in our community is not acceptable. The SLT issued a “challenge to change” and we all have a role to play in creating a safer Red Deer.