PRESCOTT, Ont. - When he steps in the room, there's a hush and all eyes fall on Diesel Dan."I know you," says the little girl with cartoon-character eyes and pigtails, pointing up at the six-foot-tall...
A ROLE MODEL: Kriska modeled its Kriska Kids program after the American Trucker Buddy initiative.(Photo by Matthew Sylvain)
PRESCOTT, Ont. – When he steps in the room, there’s a hush and all eyes fall on Diesel Dan.
“I know you,” says the little girl with cartoon-character eyes and pigtails, pointing up at the six-foot-tall man decked-out in his fleet’s colors.
“And I know you!” exclaims Diesel Dan, indicating back with a tube in his grip like a sorcerer’s wand. Pulling a truck calendar out of the tube with clownish attention, the dozen kindergarten kids squeal with delight.
Dan “Diesel Dan” Whiteman is a driver with Kriska Transport. One morning a month he takes time away from his job to pop into classes at Boundary Street Public School, a short drive from the company’s Prescott, Ont. terminal.
Talkative and at-ease, with a youthful face beneath a head of perfectly white hair, Whiteman possesses an energy that is like a magnet to children.
“It’s funny, the kids really react to him,” explains Shelly Donnelly, a dispatcher and coordinator of Kriska Kids, a program that sees company drivers visiting area schools to demystify the truck-driving profession and explain road safety.
“He’s a role model,” she says.
The program is the brainchild of dispatcher Robert Dunphy. He introduced it after coming across Truck Buddy, a non-profit mentoring organization in the U.S. that links drivers with schoolchildren in grades 2-8. n
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