Children across the country and in Connecticut participated in the International Walk To School Day on Wednesday.
The Safe Kids Coalition of Greater Naugatuck Valley partnered with FedEx and, with the help from Griffin Hospital volunteers, taught students from both Bradley and Irving Elementary Schools in Derby, safety skills.
At first glance, it looked like the kindergarten, first and second graders were simply playing games and running sports drills outside of Bradley Elementary School. However, the fun was a way to build life skills for the children.
“Just like there are rules in school, there are also rules in life and rules on the road and reminding students of those rules is important for their safety,” said Bradley School Principal Mario Ciccarini.
The celebration of safety has been happening across the country for the last 15 years in an effort to combat pedestrian crashes.
“Every year children are getting hit by cars, whether they are teenagers or they are young children, school-aged children, children are getting hit by cars,” said Cathi Kellett of the Safe Kids Coalition.
The numbers are staggering. Safe Kids Coalition said annually nearly 500 children are killed in pedestrian crashes across the country. In Connecticut, there have been 862 crashes involving pedestrians of all ages in 2017 so far, according to the UConn Crash Repository.
“We see this every day, as professional drivers with FedEx we go out there, we are aware of the situations like that. So that's why we want to communicate and show the kids as much as possible, how to be safe out there,” said Tim Ryan, the operations manager for FedEx in Stratford.
They are teaching young children by playing games that simulate real life. The students work on their quick reflexes and the basics of traffic safety while still having fun.
“We want children to pay attention. We want them to rely on themselves to watch the traffic around them,” said Kellett.
The Safe Kids Coalitions said if children can, they should cross the street at a light and always follow crosswalk signs and markings on the road. Children should look both ways and put away any distractions, such as a cell phone, before stepping into the street.
“We want to make sure that they are safe. We want to try to eliminate any type of injury or accident that could happen,” said Ryan.
It is a goal any parent would want and a way to teach children a lesson for a lifetime.
“Above all else, the most important thing is safety and well-being for our kids. Kids need to feel safe 24/7 and not just in school but outside of school as well,” said Ciccarini.