Tofield, Alberta – When someone is experiencing a crisis, Beaver County Victim Services (BCVS) staff and volunteer advocates are there to provide free and confidential support in whatever way they can.
Working under the guidance and direction of the RCMP detachments of Tofield and Viking, BCVS’ goal is to limit the impact of crime or tragedy through information, referral, support, assistance, community liaison, and education. One way in which BCVS is educating community members is through a recent program that provided internet safety presentations to all of the schools in Beaver County. The 13 presentations were given by Saffron Centre, a non-profit organization that provides support and assistance to victims of sexual violence.
“Normally, our program is set up to be very reactive,” says Carmen Nachtigall, program manager at BCVS. “We get called after something happens and we go out. In this case, we were able to be proactive. Saffron Centre gave one-hour presentations to each of the schools for each age group. The content was age-appropriate and touched on internet safety as it relates to things like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and gaming.” Nachtigall says the $2,500 grant from Bayer Fund’s Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities (CFGC) program is what allowed BCVS to partner with Saffron Centre to offer the presentations to local schools. She notes that school budgets don’t always have room for specialized programs like the internet safety presentations.
“The teachers and principals were very grateful that we were able to bring these presentations to the schools,” she says. “They said that some of the kids changed their phone settings immediately after the presentations. And some of the schools have actually booked Saffron Centre on their own to come out to speak to parents.”
When BCVS staff and volunteers found out they would be receiving the grant, they were elated, says Nachtigall, because it gave them the opportunity to bring awareness and start a conversation about internet safety in the community. Nachtigall believes all non-profit organizations should take advantage of available grants wherever possible. She says she has already been telling other victim services units about the CFGC grant because she knows it can be a challenge to find funding for essential programming to help the community.