By: PaKou Lee, Red Cross PR/Social Media Volunteer
It’s back to school week! I’m super excited to have my nieces and nephews back at school again. They grow up so quickly; sometimes I forget what grade they are in. I swear they were just babies not too long ago! They attend school not too far from where we live so usually it is a 3-minute car ride or nice walk to school. During the cool and warm weather it is all about walking.
I enjoy my walks with them, especially after school. I start our talks with my typical questions of asking how school went, what they ate for lunch and if they have any homework or reading to do. Last year, I think I asked way too much because my nephew, Kace, now 7, refuses to tell me what he eats for lunch. He would whine, “Why do you always ask us what we ate for lunch?”
Then of course, right after that, he would hand me his blue Skylander backpack so he can run off to be the first one home. And me being the worried aunt that I am, I always shout, “Wait for me! You better not cross the street yet!” or “Stay to your right. Watch out for the people on the bikes!”
Knowing me so well, Kace likes to test his limits with me. He would pretend he is about to cross the street and shout “I’m going to cross the street, Auntie PaKou.” This boy wants to give me a panic attack! Again, knowing me so well, he knows not to cross without me. As a reminder, I tell Kace, my nieces, Nevaeh and Cienna, to look for cars both ways, stay a foot back from the curb, and wait for an adult to cross the street. I’m sure I’ve established these safety tips into their carefree minds but sometimes kids forget!
Today, Nevaeh asked if she could walk with her friends to school instead of getting a ride. She has been asking all week so their dad, Pheng, my brother agreed. And of course, I stand at the porch with their baby sister, Khloe, on my hip reminding Nevaeh that she is the older one so she needs to watch after Kace and Cienna, don’t talk to strangers and for the little ones to listen to her. A part of me wanted to walk with them to make sure they were safe, but I told myself I trust them to make the best decision.
I’ve shared just some of the basic walking tips, but here are more tips you can utilize and share with other children:
- Stay Alert: Don’t get distracted by your phone or music player. Put your electronics away and focus on the sidewalk and road, especially when crossing the street.
- Walk with a Buddy: Don’t walk alone. Always walk with someone you know or with an adult. Don’t talk to strangers. If a stranger approaches you, find a trusted adult or go to a safe spot. Never follow or go into a stranger’s car.
- Listen to the Cross Guards: Look for the pedestrian signs and wait until the cross guard signals the okay to cross the street.
- Stay Aware of Runners and Bikers: Not only do you have to watch out for cars, but also for runners and bikers. Stay clear of their way. Bikers should ring their bike bells and runner should call out that they are passing you.
- Be Visible: Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic. Wear bright colors so drivers can spot you easily.
Parents, make sure you practice walking to school with your children so they remember the route that is safe for them. Let’s make this school year an exciting and safe year!