Surrey’s Tyra Helland

Teaching others to play it safe

Champs ride The War Amps PLAYSAFE/DRIVESAFE float in the Steveston Salmon Festival Parade.

  • Sep. 21, 2012 5:00 p.m.

Members of The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program know the consequences of unsafe play.

Many have lost limbs in accidents or know fellow Champs who have. They are accentuating the positive, however, by using their experience to pass on the PLAYSAFE message with a unique “kids-to-kids” approach.

Parade goers saw this message in action recently when area Champs joined The War Amps PLAYSAFE/DRIVESAFE float in the Steveston Salmon Festival Parade.

Along with her fellow Champs, Surrey resident Tyra Helland, 10, a left-hand amputee, rode the float as a Safety Ambassador, while another Champ walked alongside the float as a Safety Walker.

The colourful, animated float is specially designed to capture the attention of children, with ASTAR, the gold robot from Planet Danger, reminding them that he can put his arm back on but they can’t.  To further reinforce the message, the Safety Walkers and Safety Ambassadors shouted out the PLAYSAFE message to kids and the DRIVESAFE message to adults along the parade route.

“These Champs help us get the PLAYSAFE message out to more than 2.5 million people at parades across Canada each year,” says Rob Larman, director of PLAYSAFE/DRIVESAFE, who himself lost a leg at the age of 14 when friends dared him to jump a train. “It is a vital message, because I know that if I had heard it at a young age, I would have thought twice about playing in such a dangerous place.”

For PLAYSAFE information or resources, call 1-800-250-3030 or visit

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