I saw an interesting – rather amazing – photo on facebook which really got my attention. This is the turnoff from Banff to the Trans-Canada Highway. Many stretches of this highway run through wilderness areas and they found vehicle/animal collisions increased, so they built “animal crossings” – areas with one-way gates, overpasses and underpasses providing safe places for animals to cross where they already had animal trails. This photo shows a bridge where elk are crossing.
This photo made me think . . .
· The wildlife apparently noticed and were very willing to make use of the safe places for them to cross . . . they clearly made the choice to use them. What do we do to help parents/grandparents and children in our communities know about the opportunities we provide for the children they love in our ministries? How do we “promote”? To whom do we “promote”? Do we accept low turn-outs or do we commit to mke it apparent to all around us when we have opportunities for children to be involved in our ministries? “If we build it, they will come” . . . so, what do we do to let others know we, “built it” and want them to “come”?
· The reason for the gates, overpasses and underpasses is to provide a safe crossing for wildlife . . . what do we do to ensure our Children’s Ministries provide a safe place for children? In this day and age parents/grandparents need to know what policies and procedures you have in place and follow to ensure the children they love are safe in your care. If you do not have a safety policy, before you do another thing, get a policy in writing and follow it, to the letter. Regularly schedule opportunities for parents/grandparents to sit down with you to go through your safety policies, so they know what they are. Always include safety training in your volunteer training and whenever you have a new volunteer who has been safety screened and checked, always require them to complete safety training before they are allowed to work with the children.
· And along this thought – what is your policy on bathroom use? Do you have dedicated bathrooms for children? If so, do you do anything to be sure no adults are allowed in these bathrooms during opportunities for children at your church? Remember, pretty much every adult – and teen – in your church has a phone . . . which means they have cameras. You can not allow adults/teens to use the same bathrooms as they children use. Period. If you do not have a bathroom you are able to designate as a bathroom for children ONLY, be sure an adult always goes with the children to the bathroom – have the adult check before children use the bathroom and then stand outside to ask adults to wait for the child to leave before they go in.
My first response to this photo was, “This is amazing!” Let’s commit to making this the response of the families in our communities when they see what we are doing for the children they love and how we are committed to the safety of these children!