'Heroes in their school': Hundreds of safety patrollers lace up for skate with Lethbridge Hurricanes
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are off this week, so players took Tuesday to spend time with local AMA school safety patrollers at the ENMAX Centre.
"It's an opportunity to celebrate our patrollers and show them that the community supports the work that they're doing out at our crosswalks to ensure our crosswalks are kept safe," said Allison Purcell, AMA school patrol co-ordinator.
More than 350 patrollers traded in their reflective vests for skates and an opportunity to meet some of their hockey heroes.
Along with missing class for the day, the grades 5 and 6 students were able to get autographs and take pictures with the Hurricanes.
"It's a lot of fun and I like (meeting) all the players," said Brady Ring, a student and safety patroller from Claresholm.
Purcell believes what begins at the crosswalk as just helping their fellow students cross the street helps develop leadership in kids at a young age and that leads to increased safety at their schools, which also presents fun opportunities like this.
"These are leaders in their schools – they're heroes to the kids that come to cross at their crosswalk," Purcell said.
"So, as much as we have our community heroes here today, the Lethbridge Police Service and Hurricanes, these kids are heroes in their school communities as well."
Students from across southwestern Alberta including Vulcan, Claresholm and Pincher Creek made the bus ride to Lethbridge for the skate and the Hurricanes were just as eager to meet them.
"It's a lot of fun," said Hurricanes goalie Harrison Meneghin.
"Obviously, signing all these autographs is fun and meeting all the kids, but giving them some advice, telling them what it's like to play hockey at a high level and how much fun it is and how much hard work it takes."
AMA says the skate with the Hurricanes is just one of the ways they give back to the students for all their dedication to making school zones safer throughout the year.
"Safety patrollers have been on the crosswalk in Alberta for more than 85 years and during that time, there have been no serious injuries or fatalities when a patroller has been on the crosswalk," Purcell added.
"Everyone is busy, they're on their way to work and to have that visual reference and reinforce that, it's a critical element to keeping the school areas, the school zones and kids safe," said Const. Donald Realini, with the LPS youth engagement unit.
"It's always great when we can come out here and be in the community and have fun with our students."
The safety patrollers will head back to the classroom on Wednesday.
As for the Hurricanes, they're gearing up to take on the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday at the ENMAX Centre.
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