At Perth’s Festival of the Maples in late April both Makenna and Myla Ennis spent some time at Town Hall having vital personal statistics taken: fingerprints, photographs, video and audio, dental impressions and DNA swabs. Makenna is 7 and Myla is 5. This was all part of the MasoniCh.I.P. Ontario program, a child identification program sponsored by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario that works with regional and national law enforcement agencies.
It doesn’t take long to gather all the information for the kit, about 10 to 15 minutes per person. All the information gathered is given to the parents or guardians and after each child is processed, the data is deleted. This information is matched to work seamlessly with Ontario’s law enforcement providers so that critical identifying information can be broadcast and shared quickly should a child go missing.
To date, over 69,000 child ID kits have been provided free of charge to families.
The Perth day processed 27 kids and Paul Weagle, chair of the child ID program this year, says “it’s always considered a success if we only do just one child.”
He says the dental hygienist is one of the key people in the clinic. This year it was Barb Fournier taking DNA swabs. He adds that it’s actually fun for the kids as they get to talk into a mic and see themselves on a video.
He explains that if a child goes missing, parents can use the information in any Amber Alert system and the info has been used in missing children searches.
At clinics, parents or guardians complete permission forms, basic information sheets (height, weight, eye colour etc.), and each child goes through the different stations with their parents to complete the kits.
The Masons want parents to know that “the first two hours after a child has gone missing are the most critical,” and “the key to recovering missing children is quick action by parents and law enforcement agencies.”
The next area Ch.I.P clinic will be held Sunday, July 9 at the Merrickville Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call Robert Miller at 613-258-6079 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the June edition of Hometown News. Read more of the June issue online.