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Coalition hoping to go safely into millennium

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The Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition is gearing up for its next goal--to have the district listed as a "safe community" with the World Health Organization by the year 2000.

Coalition rep Doug Langtry said he’s aiming to have the application off by the end of the month, noting the district already has fulfilled six of the 12 requirements.

And he’s hoping to persuade Prof. Leif Svanstrom of Sweden, who heads the WHO and attends conferences in Alberta annually in February and November, to make the first of two required visits here in November.

Langtry will have a chance to speak directly to Prof. Svanstrom this May when he represents the district at the annual WHO conference in Rotterdam, and at an International Injury Prevention conference in Amsterdam.

This will be the third WHO conference Langtry has attended--he was in Melbourne, Australia last year and Fort McMurray, Alta. in 1996. He felt such conferences were beneficial because countries around the world had much in common when it came to safety.

"They all have the same problems, and this all relates to health," he explained Monday. "[And] they have them in different degrees. You get different ideas on how other countries deal with things."

"[We] hope to get a broader perspective of what’s going on in terms of community safety," echoed RRVSC co-ordinator Elaine Caron. "It’ll be nice to get some new ideas. And that’s where new ideas come from."

And some of those ideas could help in the six objectives the local safety coalition is focusing on:

oa safety resource centre;

odecreasing severity and cost of workplace-related injuries;

opromoting safety among farm and rural residents;

oincreasing personal safety associated with bicycles, vehicles, and car seats;

oreducing injuries in playgrounds; and

oreducing accidents and injuries among the elderly.

"One area that’s tough is the senior area," Langtry admitted, noting it was difficult to change people’s patterns that have been developed over the years.

In Australia, though, Langtry said the seniors’ centre was attached to the health unit and started a light aerobics program there each morning.

"And they had cut almost 50 percent of their falls," he added.

Meanwhile, this will be the first time Langtry has attended an IIP conference, which are held every two years, so he isn’t sure what to expect from that. Some 21 speakers from different countries are slated to speak there while the WHO conference has six.

He’d also like to get set up on the Internet to help share initiatives with people around the globe.

"You start to work with other people around the world. You help them and they help you," he said, stressing the goal was to find the roots of safety problems rather than treating the injuries.

"Everything is preventable," he added.

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