Winnipeg volunteer shares her experiences to help fellow newcomers prevent injuries

Bavleen Kaur sitting beside a laptopWhen Bavleen Kaur moved to Winnipeg from India, she wanted to volunteer in her new community.

Her attention was captured by the Canadian Red Cross SmartStart program, which teaches injury prevention to newcomers to Canada. She ended up applying her newfound safety skills almost immediately.

On the same day she attended a SmartStart presentation about how to help in emergencies, she came across an unconscious man in the bus shelter. She had learned that the emergency number in Canada was 911 and that she would need to provide her phone number, location and details of what was happening. So that is just what she did. Help arrived quickly and the man was OK.

“It felt so good to help out and I’m thankful to Red Cross for giving me the knowledge about what to do,” she said.

The program also taught her how to stay safe and warm in frigid Canadian winters. “It was my first time living in snow,” she said. “I had all the clothes and things that I required. I think because of this program I was ready for the winter.”

Bavleen Kaur holding up a scarf in front of a laptopAs a volunteer in the SmartStart program Bavleen does presentations for other newcomers teaching them what she has learned about preventing injuries and the risks faced in Canada. Using newcomers as presenters is beneficial as these volunteers share their personal experiences and knows the challenges new arrivals to Canada face.

Presenters use pictures and props to more effectively communicate to those who are new to English. For example, a facilitator may show a bottle of apple juice and a bottle of cleaning solution to show how they may look similar while explaining that in Canada cleaning products are often given a pleasant smell. This helps demonstrate why it is important to store cleaning solutions out of children’s reach.  
In addition to helping keep her safe, the SmartStart program also developed Bavleen’s presentation and public speaking skills which will be helpful for school and future work.

“I used to speak a bit fast and because most of the newcomers don’t know English very well, I learned to talk to them in a better way. It definitely did enhance my speaking skills and enhanced my confidence as well.”

A zoom meeting with newcomers, dressed in winter gearBavleen has found her volunteer experience with the Red Cross to be a positive one and recommends that others should consider joining the team. Volunteering with the SmartStart program “gives an exposure to people from different cultures. I have met people from different countries and talking to them is a great experience. It’s satisfying helping others, you’re doing something good for others. It really helps.”

The SmartStart: Injury Prevention for Newcomers program is offered to settlement agencies in Winnipeg and Brandon, MB.

Learn more about how you can use your unique skills to help others when you volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross.

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