Safe Routes Scoop
Simple and Safe Ways to Stroll to School

When students are ready to walk but not familiar with the walking route, parents should escort them for the first few weeks to point out places of safety and landmarks that will help children feel more comfortable. Parents need to be able to assess their individual child's skills and teach safe behavior. Walking is great exercise for children and with a few cautionary tips, most children can walk to school. For more transportation safety tips for children, visit http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/
newtips/pages/tip8.htm

 

Corner Captains and Parent Patrols

Sometimes a coordinated walking effort is not needed. Parents and caregivers can be asked to help as a part of an existing routine. For example, some communities have recruited volunteers to become “Corner Captains.”  Corner Captains position themselves at key locations throughout a neighborhood and watch over kids as they walk to school. This is a good alternative for parents and grandparents who want to assist with the morning school commute but do not have enough time or energy to walk their kids to class. In Baltimore, a committee of parents and grandparents formed the Montebello Corner Captains Club at the Montebello Elementary School. Many children in this neighborhood live with their grandparents or have a grandparent living in their home. The Corner Captains Club provides a way

for grandparents to get involved. The club ordered special T-shirts and hats and the school reinforces their work by encouraging kids to walk and to follow the Corner Captains’ directions.

 

In Chicago, Community Alternative Policing Strategy officers within the city police department train Parent Patrol volunteers to stand watch on corners within the school zone to help deter crime in the morning and afternoon. Discretionary school funds are used to purchase jackets and vests for the parents, so they can be easily identified by the children. Parent Patrols provide an added layer of protection and give adults a chance to interact with children.

 

In the University Heights neighborhood of Newark, concerned parents, grandparents and community volunteers from the University Heights Super Neighborhood (see sidebar) stand watch in front of the American History High School to observe all activities and make sure students are safe. Community members volunteer when they are available. This informal approach encourages parents and caregivers to step in if one of the usual locations is not covered on any given morning or afternoon. This empowers caregivers to take the initiative rather wait for an appointed designee. The group is not affiliatedwith the school, but grew out of a need for a crossing guard or traffic police officer at the corner.

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