Safety and Risk Management
At STRIVE, we believe that personal growth comes from pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and being willing to take a few risks; but, we recognize that taking that risk must occur in a safe and structured environment. With that in mind, we’ve created a risk-management policy that creates a safe environment for all our participants while still giving them room to grow and explore.
How do we do this?
Safety Management System
There are some elements of our risk management policy that take place at an administrative level. Over the years, we have developed an in-depth Safety Management System (SMS) where we document the many rules and best practices we use when arranging our programs. This is not a static document, but one that is continuously changing each year. We constantly review our policies after each program and update how we run things to make as safe and meaningful a trip as possible for our students.
Moreover, we are constantly monitoring the situation while in country via traditional channels such as the US State Department and mainstream media, as well as staying in contact with our connections on the ground in our program countries. Since we have been working in the same communities for close to a decade, we have a myriad of trustworthy local voices who can give us up to date information on any local news or issues.
Before students set foot in their program country, our staff undergo extensive training. This not only includes CPR and First AID certification, but also familiarizes our staff with the SMS and STRIVE’s policies and decision-making protocol. Staff also review each student and parent’s application information, specifically the medical and mental health history, so that they are aware of and ready to react to any potential issues that may arise. Our staff are also hired, in part, because they are familiar with the areas in which they’ll be working. Local cultural and language knowledge is critical in many parts of the world and we look for staff who know how to handle any situation in a foreign culture.
Also, our administrative staff have pre-checked all of our group’s plans well in advance of their arrival. Hotels, activities, and even restaurants are visited by staff prior to our groups’ arrival.
Lastly, all members of our groups are registered with the US State Department. This allows us to receive emergency updates from the US Government and, in the event of a large scale emergency, will alert the US Government of our presence in country.
At the start of our programs, we have an extensive review of our safety protocol and program rules with all students, interns, and staff. These include simple day-to-day requirements (e.g. our students must be in groups of (at least) three at all times and no staff, intern, nor student is allowed to consume alcohol or illegal drugs), and also include bigger picture protocol items like what to do in the event of an earthquake or other large scale natural disaster.
We also work to have as many staff on hand as possible. We have at least 1 staff for every 6 high school students and also have 5-10 interns on hand during each high school program. Staff conduct regular check-ins with students to make sure that students are healthy and in good spirits.
In the event that an incident does occur, our staff have a clear incident report system which is reviewed both during the incident and at the end of the summer to see if any changes should be made to the SMS to help prevent the incident from occurring again in the future. Even in the event of a “near-miss” (i.e. something that was almost an accident or issue), our staff are trained to investigate the issue, find out what (almost) went wrong, and plan for how to avoid that issue in the future.
Lastly, our staff are closely connected with locals in our service communities, from government and school officials to business owners and personal friends, which allows our leaders to stay as up to date on any local issues.
A Safe and Rewarding Experience
Our safety protocol helps us keep our promise to our parents and students: to offer a program that will foster personal growth and development while doing so in a safe environment. While one can never fully eliminate risk, we believe that we have found a perfect balance where our students can develop new perspectives while knowing that they are in good hands.
Please contact us with any questions regarding our policies or even if you’d like to take a glance at our Safety Management System. We believe in transparency and will happily share information about how we keep our participants safe, happy and healthy.