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WHO steering committee forging plans


Organizers have been meeting here monthly to continue planning for the 11th-annual International Conference on Safe Communities, an initiative of the World Health Organization, which is being hosted by Rainy River District in May, 2002.

The conference is expected to attract hundreds of delegates from around the world.

“We’ve got some momentum going. We’re starting to get some inquiries from outside the area,” noted Doug Anderson, chairman of the local steering committee.

Featuring the theme “SEEDS [Safety, Education, Equal opportunity, Dedication, and Sustainability]--Growing safe communities,” the conference will highlight the basic skills required by local safety coalitions, with the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition setting an example for the rest of the world.

“We are so far ahead of so many other communities [worldwide], we are being used as a model,” said steering committee member Linda Plumridge.

The RRVSC, formed to bring district safety groups together, originally sought to host the conference here. Others have since joined in organizing it and in January, the steering committee hopes to call for more volunteers to form specific committees.

To date, Peter Wilkins has taken on the role of chair for the finance committee, Geoff Gillon as chair of the logistics committee, Plumridge as chair of communication and public relations, and Michael Bird and Doug Langtry as chair and co-chair of the programming committee.

Canada’s national safe communities group also will meet in the district at the same time.

The RRVSC represents many safety organization across the district, including D.A.R.E., Risk Watch, farm safety programs, and the Northwestern Health Unit.

“The safety coalition doesn’t do everything but it tries to bring together the groups that provide the safety,” said Plumridge.

“It takes the motto ‘coalition in safety,’” she added. “All these programs run independently and what the coalition tries to do is bring them all together.”

Besides promoting safety initiatives for others, conference organizers hope to put Rainy River District on the map as a safe destination to visit or live in.

“It’s going to be a district-wide, community-based conference. People have done a lot here to promote safety and we’re going to promote that,” said Anderson.

“We have to continue to strengthen our own community safety initiatives,” he stressed.

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