As a parent this time of year brings a swell of anxiety and relief. With the setting of another summer comes with it the crispness of fall and the beginning of a new school year.
I remember growing up walking to and from school each day. Some days were definitely more fun than others, but never did I question if I was going to get to school safely. The neighborhood I grew up in was older, not very busy, and had sidewalks. Whether I realized it or not, this 0.9 mile walk (1.8 both ways) ensured that I got at least 30 minutes of physical exercise each school day. Rain or shine, wind or snow, it was a constant during those early years.
As a parent I now see myself on the other side of this equation. I find myself constantly worrying about the safety and welfare of my kids. I also am struck with the realization of just how fortunate I was growing up in an area where sidewalks were along every road and crossing guards were at every major intersection. One need only pay attention to the news each year to realize that these essentials for child safety are not found in every neighborhood.
The past few years the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association has worked with students from BYU to help students, parents, schools, and city officials to recognize the threats that exist in their communities. Their findings have been staggering – if not frightening.
Throughout this blog you will see pictures and stories from students and parents. These situations are real and they are found throughout our state. Cities and the Department of Transportation stretch limited resources out as much as they can to try and fix these issues but the reality is that they need you – your voice, your concerns, and your experiences.
As you prepare for the upcoming school year take the opportunity to walk the path that your children or grandchildren will soon be embarking upon. See for yourself what the route your child will take looks like. If there are problem areas, take the time to help your little ones know how to navigate around them. Document where these areas are and snap a picture of them as well. Take to social media and use the hashtag #SafeRoutesUT. Share these pictures, locations, and stories with your friends, neighbors, and locally elected officials. Help them to understand the issues. And help them know that there are things all of us can do to fix these issues in each of our areas.
With your help, and working with the State’s Safe Routes to School Program, we will make a difference for the children around us and help create safer, more accessible neighborhoods for all of us to enjoy.
Some examples we have seen in our community include:
From missing crosswalks:
Missing Crossing Guards:
Missing or damaged sidewalks: