A one-of-a-kind program will be celebrated by a one-of-a-kind school system next week when Atlanta Public Schools pays homage to its great protectors with APS School Crossing Guard Recognition Week (Jan. 24-28). The week will culminate with Awards and Recognition Day on Friday, Jan. 28, at 9:30 a.m. in the Brewer Building (2352 Bagwell Drive SW, Atlanta GA 30315).
With its launch in the fall of 2008, the program became the first certified school crossing guard program in Georgia and one of a few in the United States, according to APS School Crossing Guard Supervisor Carole Willis. School Crossing Guards (SCGs) receive 12 1/2 hours of initial training, eight hours of recertification (each year of their employ), Willis said. Most of the 85 SCGs are CPR/AED certified (via APS) and receive an overview of child-abuse information as part of their training.
A select few trained SCGs participate in the Safety Education Training (S.E.T.) program, with SCGs going throughout the district’s 35 elementary schools and teach students about pedestrian safety, where and when to cross streets, the role of a SCG, proper bus behavior, “stranger danger,” bullying, and when to call 911. This year, for example, SCG Veronica Howell has provided training to more than 7,000 students, covering 25-plus elementary schools so far.
“The value of this program lies in the fact that crossing guards play a key role in child pedestrian safety,” said Willis, who points to national statistics showing that about 1,000 children (between ages of 5-9) are killed each year in pedestrian crashes. Why? “Because children do not know how to navigate in traffic; they seldom look both ways before stepping out into the street, which makes darting-out the most common pedestrian crash type for children,” Willis continued. “We serve children as young as 5 years old who walk by themselves to school each day. I shudder to think what might happen if a crossing guard were not present. Our SCGs also assist elderly people whenever they need to cross safely. Statistically, the elderly and young children are the most vulnerable to get hit in traffic.”
In a city as traffic-heavy as Atlanta, it’s comforting to know that APS’ school crossing jobs are highly trained and motivated to keep our students safe. Here’s a to week of acknowledging their hard work.