ROSELLE PARK, NJ - Students at the Roselle Park Middle School had a real treat on Wednesday morning as local officials, police officers and volunteers were posted throughout the school zone to help escort students safely to school for the “International Walk to School Day”.

The event presented by Children’s Specialized Hospital, Safe Kids, and FedEx helped to raise awareness, promote pedestrian safety and create safer routes for walking and bicycling for children.

Mayor Carl Hokanson along with Recreation Director Rupen Shah, parents, and members of the community joined in on the escort with one group meeting and walking from the Library to the school. On other corners, officers from the Roselle Park Police Dept. also walked with students. 

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At the school, Union County Freeholder Chairman, Bruce Bergen and Freeholder Christopher Hudak greeted the students, while Carlos, a representative from FedEx, put an orange cone behind the truck to represent someone standing there, and then brought students into the truck where he explained the view of the driver, and how sometimes when someone is standing behind the truck they might not see that person. 

After arriving at the school the students went to the auditorium where on stage where Kaylee McGuire, CTRS, and Community Recreation Coordinator, for Children’s Specialized Hospital, who emceed the assembly. One survivor, in particular, Amara Riccio now 22, told her story of how she was hit by a car and suffered a severe injury when she was 12 years old.

Highlights from the event can be viewed below.

“I am very appreciative of the level of enthusiasm, cooperation, and engagement that the administration of the school district and the police department, especially Principal Kathy Carlin who made herself extremely available to help coordinate all of the details of the event,” said McGuire. “One outcome of this event that I did not anticipate, the focus of the event originally was about raising awareness among students and helping them to become more responsible pedestrians, but it turned into much more. The conversations that stemmed from this event about how to improve the safety of the school zone. The crossing guards, police, school officials, and our Safe Kids coalition talked about what we could do to get parents to better adhere to the school zone rules, what we could do to help get students to be safer on the streets, and we even had discussions about what additional signage, processes, and infrastructure changes can be implemented to make the zone safer.”

McGuire also added, “It was exciting to see the level of engagement from all students, teachers, and school officials during the assembly. I was very surprised at how the students did not know the correct answers to many of the simple safety trivia questions I asked. My ultimate hope is that everyone leaving school today decided to make at least one safer choice as a result, whether it be walk the extra 100 feet to a crosswalk, stop and make eye contact with a driver when crossing a street, or put down their phone while walking or driving. It is the simple and easy steps we can be the difference between life and death.”

The organization will continue to work with the Roselle Park school district, for National Crossing Guard Appreciation Month in November, and to continue their work to keep kids safe in Union County.

To find out more information on programs or events at Children’s Specialized Hospital, visit their website at www.childrens-specialized.org  or  you can contact them at 908-233-3720.  You can also follow Safe Kids Union County on Facebook for safety tips and information on upcoming events here], or contact Kaylee McGuire at 908-233-3720 ext. 5736.

Top Tips for Kids

  • Look left, right and left again when crossing the street. And continue looking until safely across. 
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Be especially careful in parking lots or when crossing driveways.
  • If you are using a cell phone, headphones or a game, remember: Devices down when you cross the street.

Top Tips for Parents

  • Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Teach kids at an early age to put down their devices and then look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
  • Children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge speed and distance of cars until age 10.
  • Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Set a good example by putting devices down when you are driving or walking around cars. If we put our devices down, our kids are more likely to do the same.
  • When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly. 

 

More than 200,000 children across the United States were expected to participate in the annual national event.

NHTSA released a report, Traffic Safety Facts, which includes updated 2013 data for child pedestrian crashes. In 2013, 444 pedestrians 19 and under were killed in traffic crashes, and 16,000 were injured. That means that every day 44 children are hit by a vehicle while walking.

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