TAMPA, Fla. — Students and community leaders are fighting to make the streets around Coleman Middle School safer for kids who walk and bike after spotting several dangerous conditions.
Emily Hinsdale helped found Sidewalk Stompers, an organization that promotes pedestrian-friendly and safe school zone systems by encouraging walking and supporting the development of walking infrastructure.
She says kids are facing many problems walking to and from Coleman, including faded crosswalks, missing crosswalks and a lack of sidewalks.
"There is no safe alternative for students to approach," Hinsdale said. "There's no sidewalk that can take them to a crosswalk. They are just going to have to walk through traffic if they want to get to the school."
Sidewalk Stompers has already identified hazardous roads and dangerous intersections around the school, including Lois/Henderson/San Rafael, Lois and Bay to Bay, Manhattan and Bay to Bay as well as Henderson and San Jose and Manhattan and Melrose.
Now, they are getting students at Coleman Middle School involved in their own safety using a reward-based program for students who walk or bike to school. The group, alongside students, have created the Coleman Road Safety project, presenting Roadwise Awards to Coleman students crossing the roads around the school safely before school.
Students can now win prizes, candy, raffle tickets and more by crossing at a crosswalk, waiting for a light or walk signal, if available, using sidewalks, if available, no texting while walking, no cutting through parking lots, the bus ramp, or traffic and wearing a bike helmet.
The group told county leaders Wednesday that they are seeking community engagement with donations for student rewards as well as the school administration and staff support
The initiative's overall goal is to improve the safety of all students walking and biking to Coleman.
Roadwise Awards are presented by Roadwise Champions. The Champions are Coleman student volunteers and parent volunteers. Students with the Student Government Association and PTSA Student Board are helping coordinate this effort.