McGill students launch new walking service in Milton-Park community

In answer to recent budget cuts that eliminated the bus service that transported elementary students from FACE to an after-school daycare eight blocks away, McGill's student-run Walksafe program is piloting a new service to accompany some sixty children (aged between 5 and 12) to the day-care facilities on a daily basis.
A Walksafe volunteer keeps an eye of his charges as he accompanies them from FACE to the Service d’acceuil du Centre Multi-Ethnique St-Louis. / Photo: Neale McDevitt

SSMU Walksafe pilot projet in partnership with FACE after-school program

Walksafe is piloting a new daytime walking service in partnership with an after-school daycare linked to FACE’s elementary school.

“Walksafe is expanding its mandate, after more than 25 years of devoted service, to include the broader community” explains Daniela Arellano, operations coordinator of the McGill volunteer service.

Walksafe, a McGill student-run service that walks with students who are uncomfortable or unable to walk alone at night has recently struck an agreement with the Service d’acceuil du Centre Multi-Ethnique St-Louis, also now over 25 years old.

“Since cuts to school board funding last year, our kids have to walk the eight blocks from FACE school to the community centre where we operate our after-school program,” Jason Prince, president of the Service d’acceuil explained.

“For the last 25 years, they took the bus, but that was cut last year,” Prince explained. “That’s why we reached out to Walksafe for help.”

Walksafe (which has been operating since 1991) will operate a daily work-week walking service from the FACE school to the Recreation Association of Milton Park to complement the staff from Service d’acceuil in taking roughly sixty children (aged between 5 and 12) from the school to the day-care facilities.

“We are in a pilot project phase,” explained Arellano. “If we can keep our volunteers coming – and so far, so good! – we can make the partnership permanent. It’s a fun way to volunteer, because the kids are so fun.”

“Our two services were born just months apart,” Prince noted. “It seems right that we can grow stronger now, together, through this kind of partnership, that also reinforces McGill’s role in its broader community.”