Stanhope School hosts Pedestrian Safety Day

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    Stanhope n Borough students now know how to walk the walk, thanks to a program designed to teach them pedestrian safety. Last Tuesday, Nov. 9, students at the Stanhope School spent their lunch hour learning to "Walk this Way." Students strolled through a series of activities focused on pedestrian safety as part of an interactive event sponsored by the Stanhope School PTA and SAFE KIDS Northern New Jersey. After Stanhope lost its courtesy busing due to school budget cuts in September, one mom was called to action to try to make Stanhope's streets safer for all young pedestrians. Finding a way to teach the students to walk to school safely was at the top of her list. "This town is not prepared for all these kids to be walking to school," said Gina Thomas, mother of two boys, ages seven and nine. "We have approached the town council to request additional sidewalks, but students need to be made aware of the hazards around them." The idea for the program came to Thomas on the road of all places. Thomas followed a "Safe Kids" logo on the back of a trailer into a McDonald's parking lot one day, after hearing about the agency's International Walk to School Day in October. She approached the driver, a police detective from Randolph, who referred her to KJ Feury, the Injury Prevention Coordinator at Morristown Memorial Hospital. Through Feury's affiliation with SAFE KIDS Northern New Jersey, and a group of parent volunteers corralled by Thomas, Stanhope's first Pedestrian Safety Day was born. Although a cold wind was whistling through the parking lot, the Stanhope students were enthusiastic to be outside, and were split up and sent through four stations of activities. They learned to identify hazards and how to avoid them. Students reviewed bicycle safety, including learning hand signals and watched a melon-splitting helmet demonstration. They walked through a chalk crosswalk, practicing stopping and looking at each intersection. And the children were invited to play red light/green light as a reminder to check out the traffic signals before entering roadways. Nearly nine out of 10 intersections have hazards that put children at risk as they walk to and from school, according to new research released earlier this month by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. The research found that unsafe driver behavior and poor infrastructure at intersections are responsible for creating unsafe conditions. According to the research, the four most common environmental and behavioral hazards that put children at risk are: drivers who fail to stop, or stop and then turn illegally; crosswalks in poor condition or not present at all; posted speed limits during school hours of 35 mph or more; and curb ramps that are missing or outside the crosswalk. For more information on local SAFE KIDS Walk this Way events, or for a copy of Kids at the Crossroads: A National Survey of Physical Environment and Motorist Behavior in School Zones, contact SAFE KIDS Northern NJ a