What is the History of Safety Tree?
(I get asked this a lot)
Safety Tree is a Safety Education Company that I established in May 2015.
Why did I choose to call the company Safety Tree?
Trees symbolize exploring and spreading your wings. I didn’t know what direction the company would go in and thought that all the branches and leaves would be new growth and not limit the types of education we could offer.
Having worked with children and youth my whole life, and after returning from a 9 year stint in Japan, I went back to working in Early Childhood Education. I quickly became bored because I didn’t have much freedom financially, time wise or control over the curriculum.
With $500 to spare I started brainstorming ideas of how I could leave my job but still work in education. The children in Japan were very independent and I didn’t see the same number of children here in Canada developing the types of skills and confidence to make logical choices at such a young age.
I remembered as a tween getting my Red Cross Babysitting Course Certificate, I was so excited to start my first job. I dug a little deeper, looking for something to educate children even younger. I came across a program called Home Alone Safety for Kids for 9-12 year olds and contacted the founders about becoming a training partner. The program had only been sold to organizations not independent people, but after providing my resume and experience, along with my passion for children’s education, they agreed to approve our partnership.
I researched how to start my own business; reading articles online, talking to friends that were business owners and attending workshops. Within a couple months I had my business license, insurance and materials. I had studied the materials, and came up with creative ways to deliver the content and keep my students engaged. I was ready to get out there, I started to book room rentals at local venues and advertised for students to attend my classes through Facebook. It started out small with 5-8 students in a class but it didn’t take long for those numbers to grow as the word spread.
A few months later I was ready to add the Red Cross Babysitting Course and go at this full time. I had to create a business plan for Red Cross to prove that I knew the market etc, it seemed like the next step for the students after the Home Alone Safety for Kids class so I thought it would be easy to get repeat clients. Especially if they enjoyed the first course:)
Most of my family and friends thought I was crazy to quit a full time job with benefits because the risks were just too uncertain. SOS4Kids helped me a lot to understand the benefits of being self employed and pursuing a dream. I had one particular support that was very close to me, and saw how passionate I was about this new business and believed in me. After a lot of conversations I decided to ask for a leave of absence for 6 months from my full time job to make sure I could make a go of this full time. Unfortunately or fortunately, they didn’t accept my request and I was forced to resign or continue working. Within hours I had sent off my resignation feeling nervous but excited about where the road ahead would lead.
I built partnerships with Oxford Learning Centres, Sobeys, Private Schools, City of Kitchener, City of Waterloo and Wilmot Township. We expanded offering our programs in 4 or 5 towns/cities and got approval to distribute our materials through some of the local school boards.
Soon it became too much for me to do on my own. I began my search to find qualified Teachers, Early Childhood Educators and Social Workers to deliver the courses with lots of experience and passion for what they do.
Fast forward to 2021, we have added 4 other courses to cater to the needs of the communities. We offer 2 more courses through SOS4Kids My Safe Life – Personal Safety for children ages 6-9yrs and Safety for Independent Living Course for young adults with learning challenges. Most of our courses are now available virtually and we offer times to suit all provinces across Canada.
What I have learned is once your business is going well enough that you have some extra cash, hire people to do your website, advertising and bookkeeping. Spend your time doing what you shine at, get out there and be the face of your business, work hard and the benefits will come. There is nothing better than hearing the children talk about how much fun they had and the parents sending emails about how their child’s confidence has grown and how much knowledge they retained.
I am incredibly lucky to have a supportive family, friends and the Safety Tree team that contribute to the success of this company each and every day! The best part of my job is being able to make Safety Education fun and work a flexible schedule so I am able to spend time with my loved ones.