Parachute is a national, charitable organization, formed in July 2012, which unites the former organizations of Safe Communities Canada, Safe Kids Canada, SMARTRISK and ThinkFirst Canada into one strong leader in injury prevention.
The amalgamation process began in 2009 when the leaders of the four organizations sat down to explore ways to work more formally together. This was followed up with a national consultation that resulted in the One Voice, Safer Canada report released in June 2010. The four organizations then investigated various ways in which an amalgamation might be structured.
Ultimately, a new organization with the new brand Parachute was created that combines the expertise and experience of all four legacy organizations and is designed to achieve greater impact in awareness, advocacy and action in the cause of injury prevention.
Founded in 1996 by Paul Kells, who lost his 19-year-old son Sean in a workplace explosion, Safe Communities Canada was dedicated to making Canada the safest country in the world to live, learn, work and play. It did this by helping communities across the country build the capacity and resources they need to mount coordinated, collaborative programs designed to reduce the pain and cost of injury and promote a culture of safety for all citizens.
Safe Communities Canada, and now Parachute, designates communities in Canada, which have demonstrated that they have developed the capacity to address their injury challenges in a thoughtful and strategic fashion.
Safe Kids Canada was founded in 1992 by Dr. David Wesson, a surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, who realized that many of his medical cases were caused by incidents that were predictable and preventable. He was looking to help parents keep their kids safe and to change the environments where kids live, learn and play. Safe Kids Canada was established as a result of his search.
Safe Kids Canada’s mission was to lead and inspire a culture of safety across the country in order to reduce unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death among children and youth in Canada. Safe Kids Canada used a collaborative and innovative approach to develop partnerships, conduct research, educate and advocate to prevent serious injuries among children, youth and their families.
Founded in 1992 in Canada by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator and other concerned individuals, ThinkFirst Canada was a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries. There are still ThinkFirst Chapters in every province in Canada spreading the Parachute injury prevention messages. Managed by dedicated volunteers, some of whom are medical professionals, teachers, coaches and injury survivors, the chapters implement Parachute programs in their local communities and raise awareness of the simple and effective ways to avoid devastating brain and spinal cord injuries.
ThinkFirst taught school-aged children and youth, sports teams, and community volunteers, to safely participate in the activities they enjoy. It promoted its message by advocating for healthy public policy, as well as participating in a number of coalitions that worked to raise injury prevention awareness in communities across the country. ThinkFirst also partnered in research on the causes of injury and the effectiveness of injury prevention programs.
SMARTRISK was a national charity dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives, by helping Canadians to see and manage the risks in their lives. Its main focus was youth, the age group at peak risk for injury.
Dr. Robert Conn, a widely respected children’s heart surgeon, founded the Canadian Injury Prevention Foundation in 1991, which he later renamed SMARTRISK. Dr. Conn believed that he could save many more lives by working to prevent injuries before they happen, rather than trying to repair the results.
The SMARTRISK philosophy began with an understanding that risk is a part of life and that taking risk is what makes life worth living for many people. SMARTRISK programs emphasized the positive choices that can be made to reduce the risk of injury while continuing to enjoy life. These programs, now Parachute programs for youth, are centred on five simple, positive choices that can be applied to all areas of life, including driving, playing sports, even just crossing the street: Buckle Up. Look First. Wear the Gear. Get Trained. Drive Sober.