Oxford County celebrated 20 years of injury prevention Wednesday by marking the anniversary of the creation of OCIPT, the Oxford County Injury Prevention Team.
Formed in 1996 under the guidance of public health representative Lorna Boratto, OCIPT still promotes safe and sober driving, pedestrian and cycling safety, ATV safety, car seat safety and pool safety.
"My job originally had been working with adults and older adults," Boratto said. "So initially, I was contacted to attend meetings about the prevention of falls in older adults, which is a huge cause of injury and death in people.Then it morphed from that into other preventable injuries and, as surrounding areas were beginning to form injury prevention coalitions, I thought, 'well Oxford needs todo the same thing.'" Boratto held the positionOCIPT chair right up until she retired last December. The group, she said, hasn't grown in terms of numbers, but the amount of work accomplished by its members has been phenomenal.
"The momentum and enthusiasm has grown and continues to move forward," Boratto said. "It's hard to put numbers on it but, in our own small way, we've certainly increased the awareness of car seats, the need to wear bicycle helmets ... the need to wear seat belts, and we've done huge campaigns on drinking and driving and
being a safer driver during winter conditions.
"We've been really fortunate to get that word out and hopefully something has sunk in somewhere."
Two other longtime members who have been with the team since its inception are retired police officer Robert McDonald and OPP Sgt. David Rektor. Both men said there was a need for the group when it started, with Rektor adding he was excited to see how the team had grown.
"I've been away for a number of years now, for about 15 years," he said, "so that's the excitement of today-to see how it has grown and the plans for the future. Because it's such an important committee, it was exciting to be part of the beginning and now to see where it's going is just as exciting."
McDonald said, from day one, the team has grown, and continues to do so today.
"They've even taken on ventures that some other agencies, like the Racing Against Drugs Program here, they're continuing on even though the RCMP have decided not to," McDonald said. "They're picking up the ball where others have not been able to continue."
Current member and Woodstock police Const. Nikki VanLeuwen said the group has plans for moving forward into the future, which include making a few changes to the team.
"Some of our next steps moving into the future (include) changing our logo. It's a bit more flashy," VanLeuwen said. "We're going to be reaching out to social media, we're hoping to launch some social media in the fall and getting on board with technology to reach out to the community that way."