Friday, September 21, 2012

BIS # 3134 SAFE WITH SAFE KIDS

BIS Mumbai                                                                                         

BOSCO INFORMATION SERVICE #3134

 

SAFE WITH SAFE KIDS

Bernard Fernandes

Wadala-Mumbai, September 21, 2012 :   Last year, in an effective tie-up with the Safe-Kids foundation, St. Joseph’s High School chose to blaze a trail in pedestrian safety. Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury, a leading cause of death and disability for children ages 14 and under. The 23 member countries of Safe Kids Worldwide bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate families, create safer environments and advocate for improved laws to protect children.

Having completed some surveys with the students and parents – student walkability checklist, student behavioral survey (walking to school, crossing the road…), student traffic safety knowledge survey – and after having gained relevant information, the path was clear to further this study, and work on the hazards surrounding traffic safety.  The students were administered a post research survey. The working committee and a group of road safety professionals carried out the school zone assessment that served as a tool for further study and interventions.

MUMBAI ENVIRONMENT SOCIAL NETWORK (MESN) and BRIHANMUMBAIMAHAPALIKA SHIKSHAK SABHA (BMSS) were the partners of Safe Kids Foundation for conducting the Model School Zone Project in our school.  MESN was instrumental in carrying out a detailed research and assessment of the school zone, and presenting some noteworthy concerns and interventions. The members of this group highlighted a few concerns such as, lack of pedestrian safety and comfort, traffic congestion, Inappropriate and undefined drop off / pick up, parking, waiting zones, absence of legible road markings/signage's, wrong / no defined pedestrian crossings, Inadequate and inconsistent foot paths and high pedestrian  intensity edge. 

Their interventions and inferences were of greater significance.  Sample some of these:  Need to re-organize the school gates w.r.t.  intensity; defined, easily accessible and safer pedestrian crossings; slow, steady vehicular traffic flow with segregated pedestrian traffic, bigger roundabout of appropriate size for easy and disciplined turning of all type of vehicles; restricted, defined, paid parking; defined, restricted, drop off and pick up zones – 2w/4w/bus; defined waiting area;  appropriately located legible signage’s.  The detailed study and recommendations, after being presented to the management of the school, were put forward, and discussed, at a stakeholders’ meeting on 10 September, 2012 attended by the MESN group, BMSS heads and staff members, traffic cops, PTA executive members, social workers, representatives of our own management team, staff and students.

One of the notable features of this exercise was the contribution by our own students through Photo Voice.  Ten of our students were trained by the Safe Kids staff to bring alive the traffic hazards we face through photos taken from strategic points.  Parents, well wishers and teachers volunteered to accompany this group to the spots assigned to them to carry out their task.  The response was amazing, they clicked astonishing snaps to bring closer home some of the oft forgotten truths and facts of traffic hazards. The students were bold enough to paint a vivid description of the situation before an elite audience of professional s, social workers, educators and public servants at the stakeholders’ meet. 

The focus now shifts to the training program for the students and awareness programs for parents and the concerned public. There lies a greater challenge ahead of us. Time to jettison old habits and embrace refreshing, intrepid and safe practices to ring in the new!

For further information on Safe Kids foundation, visit the site:

 http://www.safekids.org/worldwide/model-school-zones/india/

 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              BOSCO BIS INFORMATION SERVICE (BIS) MUMBAI

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Matunga, Mumbai - 400 019. INDIA
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Website: www.donboscomumbai.org

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