Crossing guards take to streets with new signs
Crossing guards take to streets with new signs; updated equipment part of a training session offered by Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia
by Jeremy Stewart, staff writer
Crossing guard Viola Gaines looks on as Main Elementary School students Derricus Smith (left), 12, and Czareah Lattimer, 11, cross Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Tuesday, August 21, 2012. (Daniel Varnado RN-T)
: Lucille McEver (center) stops traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard so that Main Elementary School students can cross the street Tuesday, August 21, 2012. (Daniel Varnado RN-T)
Going back to school after summer for many children means getting new clothes and supplies before the first bell of the new year rings.
Crossing guards for Rome City Schools were able to have a similar experience prior to classes starting Aug. 8 as they received new tools to help them get children safely to and from school every day.
The 10 guards were presented with new traffic vests to wear and stop signs to aid in their duty to alert motorists about students crossing roadways.
Lt. Roy Willingham, who is over the Selective Enforcement Unit of the Rome Police Department, and Sgt. Gary Pace were given the equipment after they attended a training session about school crossings in late May.
Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission regional bike and pedestrian task force, sponsored the session that took place at the NWGRC office in Dalton.
“It was mostly about traffic safety regarding crossing guards,” Willingham said. “It was a very good class on what to do and what not to do.”
Julie Smith, who is co-owner of Cycle Therapy in Rome, is the marketing coordinator of Bike! Walk! Northwest Georgia and said they receive money from the Georgia Department of Transportation and partnered with Georgia Safe Routes to Schools to provide the training and the equipment.
The signs are an upgrade from what Rome City School crossing guards have had in the past as they are made of stronger materials and are reflective.
Willingham said he hopes that these additions will provide more awareness for the safety of the kids and the presence of school zones, most of which are designated by signs with flashing lights that are activated between 7:30 and 8:30 in the mornings and 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoons.
“Just be cautious,” Willingham said. “Even when it is 8:25 (in the morning), there can still be kids that are running late to school and crossing the street.”
Part of the training included a video describing the importance of crossing guards to young children.
According to Willingham, the video discussed how children’s peripheral vision is not as developed and how they are not able to see things coming from the corner of their eye.
“They also can’t perceive where sounds are coming from very easily and don’t have strong decision-making skills,” Willingham said. “So having an adult at crossings is a big thing. They act as a control element and gives kids a sense of safety and security.”
Being a crossing guard provides a number of rewards for those who choose to do it and the kids who interact with them on a regular basis, according to Willingham.
“They get to know their names and make friends with some of them,” he said, adding that some guards receive Christmas presents and cards from students.
“It’s a great thing for the kids and the adults too and it is something that most of them love to do.”