Trinity Mount Ministries

Showing posts with label news article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news article. Show all posts

Saturday, September 25, 2021

With children back in schools, safety advocates seek to protect young walkers and cyclists

Nancy Pullen-Seufert is the director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School and a senior research associate for the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina. (UNC Highway Safety Research Center)

By Katherine Shaver

With millions of students recently returning to classrooms, some schools are seeing heavier traffic congestion as more parents drive children to avoid crowded buses.

Safety advocates who tout the health and environmental benefits of children walking and biking to school say they can navigate the additional traffic more safely using some of the same pandemic-era measures that increase social distancing.

Staggering dismissal times to reduce hallway crowding — and letting walkers and cyclists leave first — can give children on foot and bike a head-start on, and more space from, vehicles. Opening back entrances to allow more room to access school buildings can provide neighborhoods behind schools a more direct walk or bike route. Dropping off children farther from campuses can free up jammed school parking lots while providing children and parents a way to build more walking into their day.

They cite school systems like Arlington Public Schools, which worked to make walking safer around 16 elementary schools last spring after cutting school bus service in some areas to limit bus capacities. School and county officials did “walk audits” of surrounding neighborhoods to spot potential safety hazards that needed correcting and provided families with maps of the safest routes.

Nancy Pullen-Seufert is the director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which coordinates the annual Walk to School Day, this year on Oct. 6. Pullen-Seufert, also a senior research associate for the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center, spoke with The Washington Post about how the pandemic has reframed efforts to improve pedestrian and bike safety for schoolchildren.

The Post: How has the pandemic changed thinking around school travel?

Pullen-Seufert: I think it depends on the community a bit. In some places, we’re seeing parents responding to concerns about covid by, if they have the option, driving kids to school. In other places, we’re hearing from families who are saying, “Gosh, we did more walking and biking when we were learning from home, and we realized the school trip isn’t as far as we thought,” or “We’re realizing we really liked having that extra physical activity, and we want to create some new habits around that.” We’ve seen cities prioritize sidewalk improvements and construction in places that allow for more connection between schools and neighborhoods. We’ve seen cities that have made temporary changes to their streets, either by removing a traffic lane and using cones to create more space for walking or by closing streets or limiting vehicle access to streets near a school.

Cities are making covid-era street changes permanent. Some are facing pushback.

The Post: In Arlington, the school system tried to help kids walk and ride to school more safely last spring because it wanted to reduce the number of children on buses. Can you talk about that?

Pullen-Seufert: The Arlington school district has been amazing in thinking about all the ways they want to provide options for students, particularly around walking and biking. They expanded some of their walk zones so that more students from a little further away who wouldn’t necessarily have access to a school bus would have safer options for walking and biking. First, they went out and did “walk audits” to identify safety concerns and make improvements to those. They did some enhancements to crosswalks and added locations for crossing guards. On one of their higher-speed roads [Carlin Springs Road], they [temporarily] repurposed one of their traffic lanes to create more space for people to walk and bike. They also used changeable message signs to remind people that students are back to school and they’re walking and biking. I think they’re doing things to make changes to the built environment but at the same time are trying to change the culture around how we get around and what is expected. [Full bus service was restored for this school year, a school district official said.]

The Post: How has the fact that more people have been able to work from home or have more flexible work schedules during the pandemic affected the way children get to school? For example, do some parents have more time to walk their child to school rather than having to get them to a bus so they can leave for work?

Pullen-Seufert: We’re seeing it both ways. We have families who maybe have had a chance to do more walking when everyone was at home and realized this is something they wanted to build into their lives and continue when their student returned to the classroom. Certainly more flexible work schedules for people working from home is part of that. It’s sort of a reset of how we think about travel. We also have lots and lots of people who are essential workers. We still have to figure out ways to support their students in getting to school.

7 ways the ride to the office might be different this fall

The Post: What, in general, are the biggest impediments to more children walking or biking to school?

Pullen-Seufert: I think the number one [challenge] is really around the built environment, the fact that we’ve created streets that are more inviting for driving than they are for walking. We are recognizing the fact that we need to think about moving people and not just moving cars, so it’s creating more space for walking and biking and creating more protected crossings. I also think about vehicle speeds. When we think about risk of serious injury and death, the faster a vehicle is going, the more likely the pedestrian is to not survive the crash. And, of course, it takes the driver longer to stop. We know parents get very concerned about allowing children to walk where they see high traffic volumes and high speeds. We also need to create access to transit and safe routes between transit stops and schools.

The Post: What are some of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways that school or community leaders can make walking and cycling safer?

Pullen-Seufert: Schools can open up their back gates if they can, provide crossing guards and add more crossings to make it easier for students and families to come from a variety of directions to access the school. They can also work with the city to use traffic cones, paint or bollards to create more space for walking and create a physical and visual barrier between where people are driving and where people are walking. One of the other things we’ve seen during the pandemic is temporary infrastructure improvement projects. I was talking with someone in a community in Indianapolis that got a grant from their department of health to paint a bike lane in front of their school and to add another crosswalk because they wanted students [walking and on bicycles] to be able to access a different school entrance than their motor vehicle traffic.

Amid pandemic, e-cycling flourishes and gets seriously competitive

The Post: You previously mentioned that children in communities of color and lower-income neighborhoods are reflected more highly in crash statistics. Why is that?

Pullen-Seufert: We certainly see communities of color more highly represented in low-income neighborhoods, and we know that low-income neighborhoods tend to lack the same walking and biking infrastructure that higher-income areas have. We also know that low-income neighborhoods are more likely to have a high-speed street running through them, which is obviously a safety concern. Communities of color can have lower average incomes. Sometimes that’s because people are working more than one job, so there’s less time for parent supervision or for being able to spend time walking to school with a child.

The Post: How do you correct these disparities for children in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color?

Pullen-Seufert: I think it has to do with where we prioritize our resources. We need to be sure that we’re first looking where there is greatest risk. It also involves making sure we’re asking community members, “What are your concerns, and how would you like to be able to use your street?”

How the pandemic and a renewed focus on equity could reshape transportation

The Post: What else should people be thinking about or doing to make school travel safer, especially during a pandemic?

Pullen-Seufert: I’d say people should consider all of their options. If they have to drive, can they drive part of the way and walk the remainder of the route? Drivers should please drive slowly and yield to people who are walking and biking. They can also ask their school district and their school, “What are you doing to help protect my child who is riding the school bus?” I also think we want to connect with neighbors and ask how we can band together to support students using active travel to get to school or walk to public transit or their school bus stop.


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Unthinkable discovery in Canada as remains of 215 children found buried near residential school

Please don't ignore this news article. 

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Thursday, May 27, in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. The remains of 215 children have been found buried on school's grounds, which closed in 1978.

(CNN)The gruesome discovery took decades and for some survivors of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada, the confirmation that children as young as 3 were buried on school grounds crystallizes the sorrow they have carried all their lives.

"I lost my heart, it was so much hurt and pain to finally hear, for the outside world, to finally hear what we assumed was happening there," said Harvey McLeod, who attended the school for two years in the late 1960s, in a telephone interview with CNN Friday.
"The story is so unreal, that yesterday it became real for a lot of us in this community," he said.
    The Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc community in the southern interior of British Columbia, where the school was located, released a statement late Thursday saying an "unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented" was confirmed.
    "This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light -- the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School," said Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc community.
      "To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths," she said in the statement.

      Saturday, August 15, 2020

      Sheriff: 16-year-old locked in barn rescued from human trafficking

      by DAVID BONDY, WEYI Staff

      FLINT, Mich. — Several crews with a mid-Michigan sheriff's office on Friday went searching for 27 children who have been missing or off the grid.

      Seven four-man times spread out across Genesee County, about 70 miles northwest of Detroit, to look for the children.

      Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said seven of the missing children were found. One of them was a 16-year-old girl who was locked in a barn. Swanson said the barn was surrounded by barbed wire and it appears the girl was a victim of human trafficking.

      The suspect in the case was arrested and is awaiting arraignment at the Genesee County Jail.

      Mystery over Alicia Navarro’s disappearance continues after almost a year

      MISSING - Alicia Navaro

      Posted at 11:30 AM, Aug 13, 2020

      and last updated 7:27 PM, Aug 13, 2020
      GLENDALE, AZ — It’s been almost a year since 15-year-old Alicia Navarro went missing from her home in Glendale.
      Alicia has autism and relies on medication, leading her family to believe she could be in danger.

      “We’re living where there’s a lot of missing children and I cannot give up in looking for her,” expressed Jessica Nuñez, Alicia’s mother.

      Nuñez spoke to the ABC15 Investigators to ask the community to not give up on her daughter.

      “I’m very persistent in my daughter’s case because if I'm not, no one will be.”
      For almost 365 days, Nuñez has not stopped looking for her daughter. She has been determined to get more funds for billboards with Alicia’s information posted on them.

      “We were able to get a billboard thanks to a local union support of a donation on the I-10 and 75th Avenue and some additional digital boards that were also donated. At the moment, we were able to get Glendale to also put up two billboards,” said Nuñez.
      Nuñez has also been sharing an image of how Alicia would look during the COVID-19 pandemic on social media. She is hoping people will recognize her wearing a mask.

      Alicia wearing a mask 1.jpg
      “If I'm not her advocate, if I don't speak for her, who will?”

      She’s tried it all: television, radio, national news, handing out flyers in the community, reaching out through social media, and now a possible reward.
      “There’s still no leads, no information about where my daughter's whereabouts are,” said Nuñez.

      She is worried about her own daughter, but also others out there.

      “I believe there has to be some type of education programs to our youth about the risks online. Trafficking.”
      Nuñez believes Alicia was groomed online, but Jose Santiago with Glendale Police Department says they’re looking into everything.

      “There’s nothing that specifically says that she has come in contact with someone or any individuals online. We can tell you that the cell phone that she had hasn’t been used since she left that night,” stated Santiago.

      Meanwhile, Nuñez says all she can do now is plead for her safe return and sends this message to Alicia: “You left me a letter and you swore to me that you were going to come back. I know that if you could, you would have called me already. I miss you and that there’s nothing that you could have done or are doing to lower my love for you. I'm here ready to receive you in open arms."

      Nuñez also asks for compassion to the people who may know where Alicia may be.

      “What is done is done. I'm asking for compassion for me and my family. We miss her very much and we love her.”
      If you have any information about Alicia, call the Glendale Police Department at 623-930-3000.

      Tuesday, July 28, 2020

      More time at home for kids heightens concern for water safety


      (Pixabay Photo)
      PHOENIX – Like most summer programs and activities for kids throughout Arizona, a camp that offers free swim lessons and water safety education in Phoenix had to be canceled this year.

      And that’s a big concern for Karen Cohn.
      She and her husband lost their son Zachary Archer Cohn in a pool drain entrapment in their backyard swimming pool in 2007. A year later, they founded the ZAC Foundation in his honor.

      The Connecticut-based nonprofit educates kids and their families about the importance of water safety.

      But this will be the first time in a decade that the group will not be able to hold its four-day ZAC Camp nationwide, including Phoenix, where about 100 kids ages 5-9 participate every summer.

      Cohn said water safety is even more urgent now with the coronavirus pandemic.
      She said not only are water safety summer camps and programs like the ZAC camps canceled, parents are more distracted as they try to juggle working from home and trying to supervise their kids.

      One way she said parents are trying to keep their kids entertained is by “running out and buying kiddie pools and inflatable pools without being aware of the danger that they could pose to young children.”
      Drowning is a leading cause of death for young children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      “A young child can drown in less than 2 inches of water,” Cohn said.
      “So even if you have a bucket that has water left in it, young children can fall in and not be able to get themselves back up right.”
      The latest data from Children’s Safety Zone shows 10 children under 5 have drowned in Maricopa and Pinal counties so far this year.

      Cohn said now more than ever she feels it’s urgent to educate parents about water safety, starting with never leaving a child alone anywhere near water, even if a lifeguard is present.

      She also recommends adding layers of protection to keep kids from reaching above-ground pools. That includes ensuring that pools are fenced and have self-latching gates or alarms.
      For smaller and inflatable pools, Cohn recommends emptying the water and turning them upside down when they’re not being used.
      “It’s really important to also not leave toys in these pools, because children are attracted to those toys,” she said.
      She also warned parents about flotation devices, like inflatable floaties and tubes. She said they can give children a false sense of security that they can swim.
      “Talk to them about that,” she said. “Also give them the opportunity to get in the water without these flotation devices, so they can understand what it feels like when they’re in the water and they can’t swim.”
      And be aware of pool drains. She said if a drain is not working properly, everyone in the pool should get out immediately.
      “No one should be swimming in it until it’s repaired,” she said. “Not only can children become entrapped, adults can as well. It’s hundreds of pounds of pressure that can only be released when the pool pumps are shut down.”
      More water safety tips can be found on the ZAC Foundation’s website.

      Tuesday, April 2, 2019

      Family says teen was lured to her death by boys she thought were friends

      Sylvia McGhee, 14, murdered in Canton, Ohio (Image source: GoFundMe/ Sylvia McGhee lost her life In cold blood)


      By all accounts, Sylvia McGhee, 14, was a bright and outgoing middle school student who had a full life ahead of her. Now her family is grieving and wondering why Sylvia snuck out of the house in the early morning hours of March 30, 2019, only to be found dead a short distance away from her home in Canton, Ohio.
      According to Canton police, Sylvia’s body was found just a few blocks away from her home around 4 a.m. with a gunshot wound to the back of her head. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:01 a.m., according to the Stark County Coroner. Police have poured over Sylvia’s cellphone and social media postings and have identified two suspects. The suspects are reportedly 13 and 14 years old and were allegedly her friends.
      The 13-year-old has been charged with obstruction of official business and is in custody. According to Canton Police Captain Dave Davis, “He lied to officers. He gave false information during his interview.”
      The second suspect has not been arrested or charged at this time. Davis stated to ABC News-5, that all information regarding the murder has been turned over to the Stark County Prosecutor’s office. It will be up to a juvenile justice prosecutor to decide what charges may be filed.
      Sylvia’s grandmother, Sylvia Milina, believes her granddaughter was lured to her death. “She didn’t even have a chance. … It was like it was a set up to me because she’s never been out at that time,” she said to the media.
      This sentiment was echoed by the teen’s mother, Ashley Milina who has created a GoFundMe campaign titled “Sylvia McGhee lost her life in cold blood” to help with funeral expenses. She wrote, “My poor baby was murdered in cold blood. Her life was taken senselessly and carelessly. She was set up by people she considered her friends. She was only 14 years old. She was lured out of her home by some of her friends into the alley behind her house, and murdered, right behind her own home. That person who murdered her stole a part of me and my family, my heart, my soul, my world, that I will never get back nor can it be replaced. #JusticeForSylviaMcGhee.”