Safe Corridors program seeks volunteers
Group of volunteers helps students get to, from school safely
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.
Pictured are, from left, Safe Corridors volunteer Carol Lee, Martin Luther King High School music teacher Jerome Lang and Safe Corridors volunteer Herb Powers.