Teaching kids street smarts
By Nancy Gutierrez
As the time change approaches and the end of the work day falls under the dark of night, Lindsay Unified School District afterschool program administrators invite the community to help promote crosswalk safety.
"Crosswalk safety requires community participation," STARS Director Norma Erwin said. "[Everyone] should be aware that children are at the crosswalk at 5:30 p.m. every day."
Children involved in the afterschool programs at each elementary school-site walk home at around the same time as some communters are getting into Lindsay from work.
STARS site directors have been reviewing crosswalk safety with students and practicing the proper procedures for crossing the street.
Sites have planned out steps for the end of the day. Students at Jefferson are grouped by those who are picked up and those who will be walking. The walking group is then broken up into groups of students walking in the same direction. A leader takes each group to the front of the school and to the nearest crosswalk where they all cross at once.
"Those driving home for the day should expect to see groups of children walking home together," Erwin said. "A big problem lately is getting the traffic to slow down. We are working at crossing the children quickly and safely."
Erwin said many of the schools are near busy intersections. The Walnut Creek Transportation Division website reports that studies show the percentage of pedestrian accidents increases at locations where there are marked crosswalks. The WalkSacramento organization reports that being hit by a motor vehicle is the leading cause of death for children in California and speeding vehicles are the single most cited neighborhood complaint among California residents.
Motorists should slow down and be alert around school zones and neighborhoods. The STARS program recommends that parents explain to their children; where to go after the STARS program is over, what to do if no one is there, who to call if no one is home, and the phone numbers to call.