Safe Cor­ri­dors pro­gram seeks vol­un­teers

Group of vol­un­teers helps stu­dents get to, from school safely

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Ar­lene Ed­monds For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

NORTH­WEST PHILADEL­PHIA » The Safe Cor­ri­dors pro­gram is mak­ing a plea for more North­west Philadel­phia vol­un­teers.

This group of men and women vol­un­teer their time to en­sure that Philadel­phia school chil­dren walk to and from school safely. One can see them don­ning their sig­na­ture bright yel­low over­sized plas­tic vests trimmed in white and or­ange. They play the role of cross­ing guard, adult point per­sons and guardians as school chil­dren cross streets and walk along side­walks in their round-trip jour­ney from home to school.

Carol Lee, of West Oak Lane, is quick to share many sto­ries about how School Cor­ri­dor vol­un­teers

have come to the res­cue. She has been a Safe Cor­ri­dor vol­un­teer for seven years. She re­called a sit­u­a­tion where there was an in­truder in a school who was able to by­pass se­cu­rity. As soon as a vol­un­teer sus­pected what hap­pened, they called an­other vol­un­teer.

“We were able to make the school aware of what we thought had hap­pened,” Lee said. “It is like we have a [chain] so that one per­son will call an­other and tell them if we see any­thing sus­pi­cious or hear some­thing. The oth­ers can be on the look­out. Some­times it could be a med­i­cal emer­gency.”

Lee said since most schools do not have nurses, some­times it is the Safe Cor­ri­dor vol­un­teer who calls the am­bu­lance or alerts the school to do so.

“We are all work­ing to­gether to make sure that our kids are safe,” Lee said.

Herb Pow­ers, a mem­ber of Enon Taber­na­cle Bap­tist Church, said he joined Safe Cor­ri­dors when he learned about the pro­gram through his house of wor­ship. He said though his own chil­dren are grown, he is con­cerned about the many chil­dren who walk to and from school un­chap­er­oned by an adult.

“It is im­por­tant for the chil­dren to know that we are in the area,” Pow­ers said. “It makes par­ents feel bet­ter to know that we are keep­ing an eye on their child. It’s im­por­tant that some­one can com­mu­ni­cate with the school.

“I hope that more peo­ple get in­volved. It’s a mat­ter of keep­ing our chil­dren safe. Some of them do not in­ter­act with adults un­less they are in trou­ble, so the in­terac­tion is al­ways filled with hos­til­ity. We talk to the chil­dren and take time to be sure that their con­cerns are heard. We try to help them five days a week. We do need to get more men in­volved be­cause many of the chil­dren do not have fathers at home. By hav­ing men in the Safe Cor­ri­dors pro­gram, they learn how to re­late to a man, es­pe­cially when they are not in trou­ble,” Pow­ell said.

The Safe Cor­ri­dors Pro­gram is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Philadel­phia School Dis­trict, busi­nesses and com­mu­nity groups. Its mis­sion is to pro­vide ad­di­tional su­per­vi­sion for stu­dents trav­el­ling to and from school be­yond the lim­ited num­ber of cross­ing guards or school per­son­nel who are out­side of schools.

They are sim­i­lar to Op­er­a­tion Town Watch in that they can opt to pa­trol routes. Some choose to stand at one lo­ca­tion to watch and lis­ten. They of­ten can be found walk­ing up and down the busiest streets that lead to neigh­bor­hood schools. Since they are cen­tered on team­work, they share in­for­ma­tion with each other, as well as re­port any sus­pi­cious or un­usual ac­tiv­i­ties.

Every pub­lic school has its own Safe Cor­ri­dor Pro­gram.

There is al­ways a need for ad­di­tional vol­un­teers, ac­cord­ing to the Philadel­phia School Dis­trict. Vol­un­teers choose their own hours.

For more in­for­ma­tion about join­ing the pro­gram, either con­tact one’s lo­cal neigh­bor­hood school or call 215-400-4180.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Pic­tured are, from left, Safe Cor­ri­dors vol­un­teer Carol Lee, Martin Luther King High School mu­sic teacher Jerome Lang and Safe Cor­ri­dors vol­un­teer Herb Pow­ers.

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