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Irving and St. Mary-St. Michael students to learn to walk safely

October 9, 2018

DERBY-Students at Irving and the St. Mary-St. Michael elementary schools near the downtown will get lessons in safe walking Wednesday morning.

Representatives from FedEx, Safe Kids Greater Naugatuck Valley, Griffin Hospital, as well as both schools will teach kindergarten through second grade students at both schools, the proper way to cross the street. There will also be assemblies at St. Mary-St. Michael Schools every half hour from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“We will have people there greeting the parents and students when they arrive or get off the bus,” said Cathi Kellett, the coalition coordinator for Safe Kids Greater Naugatuck Valley. “We’ve been running this program since 2004.”

The event is part of International Walk to School Day.

Christian Meagher, a Griffin Hospital spokesperson said nearly 500 children are killed in the U.S. every year from accidents involving them crossing. He said statistics show that more than 16,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pedestrian-related accidents.

The two schools are located at the busy intersection of Garden Street, Water Street, Seymour Avenue and Elizabeth Street.

Meagher said representatives from the groups sponsoring the walk will show the students the safest way to cross the street as well as show them conditions that impact drivers.

“For instance they might give a child a piece of wax paper to cover their face as a way of explaining what a driver faces during foggy, overcast or wet weather,” Meagher said. “Another exercise might be having the children walk fast or run and then have stop immediately.”

Kellett said a beach ball may be rolled in front of the students while they are quickly walking, forcing them to veer away.

Both are designed to show them how a driver must react.

The program for the older students focuses on their distracted walking..

“We want them to put the phones away and pull off the ear buds in order to get them to be aware,” she said. “They might not hear sirens or a car honking. So we’ll do something with standing silently for 60 seconds—which is a long time. We want them to be aware of their surroundings and report anything that looks different or suspicious. It’s part of our Stranger Danger campaign.”

There will also be a contest to design a safety message. Additionally Mayor Richard Dziekan, a retired Hamden police officer who specialized in accident reconstruction, will read Clifford Takes a Walk to kindergarten students.

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