When Jen Shapka moved to Vancouver Island last summer, she was keen to continue volunteering her child passenger safety skills to help parents and caregivers properly install and use their car seats. There was very little happening in her town, however, and after looking north and south for an agency to volunteer with, found lots of parents with questions, but nobody offering answers.
Jen did find three other motivated and interested moms who shared her passion for child passenger safety, and who also already held certification as car seat technicians. The four women decided that Island parents deserved better access to up to date, available, highly trained Technicians. They began a Facebook page to disseminate quality information, and started doing private seat checks, community workshops and talks, and the word spread. The fire staff at the Ladysmith Fire Hall expressed an interest in certifying their members to provide the valuable resource to their community, and the women approached the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada (CPSAC) for help.
CPSAC is a national organization dedicated to changing the landscape of child passenger safety in Canada. Their highly trained and qualified founders are a dedicated group of technical specialists with extensive experience amongst them. CPSAC provides a structure for advocates to work together, by delivering a children’s restraint systems training program that reflects current standards in the field, using up to date training materials, applying consistent training standards across Canada, providing professional development of manuals, updates, and recertifications, and providing easy access to experienced instructor-trainers to answer questions.
CPSAC evaluated Jen’s experience and training, and determined she would be a good Instructor candidate. Jen completed the necessary steps, and is now proud to be a Children’s Restraint Systems Technician-Instructor, living and volunteering on the Island. Since February, 15 new technicians have been trained and are volunteering their time and skills to people in their communities up and down the Island — but it’s still not enough.
Jen has checked well over 200 seats in the past year, and has seen only one that was correctly installed and used. Clearly there is a strong need for more technicians reaching more parents. Simply put, parents do not know what they don’t know, and their children are at risk because of it. CPSAC’s primary goal is to provide standardized access to high quality information and help no matter where in Canada parents live. Jen is focusing on Vancouver Island and she is making a difference.
Jen is offering a Children’s Restraint Systems Technician training course in the Comox Valley on June 1-3, and is interested in offering additional courses from north to south. Technicians can be anyone willing to volunteer to help other parents keep their children safe in the car, and can be arranged to accommodate any organization wanting to certify their own staff. The 2.5 day course is hands on, and meant to be financially viable for all students. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.vicarseattechs.com, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VICarSeatTechs.