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Wind, Rain, Snow, and Cold: Our Crossing Guards make a difference

Recognizing community-minded dedication to student-safety: It’s Crossing Guard Appreciation Day Wednesday!

All-weather protectors…

Mark Layzell, manager of operations and transportation at New Westminster Schools.

February 12, 2019 – Wednesday is Crossing Guard Appreciation Day across Canada – and at New Westminster schools, 17 trained adults are helping make every day a little safer for students, parents and residents.

“Crossing Guards are a vital part of our school community – they’re dedicated, trained, friendly, reliable – and community-minded,” said Mark Layzell, the district’s manager of operations and transportation.

“Today is the day we want to recognize their work assisting students and other pedestrians get to and from school safely – in the rain, in minus 8 temperatures, in the snow. It doesn’t matter!”

Dedication, reliability – and layers!

Longtime crossing guard Cindy Kaila has weathered it all in 20 years of helping kids and community members cross busy streets in school zones.

Longtime crossing guard Cindy Kaila makes 8th Street and Queens Avenue safe for Fraser River Middle School students…

She’s been stationed at Fraser River Middle School, and formerly John Robson elementary, for nearly two decades  – and always comes prepared.

This week – it’s been nothing but hiking boots and long johns, she laughed.

Layzell notes that crossing guards can be particularly hard to find – requiring someone who typically lives in the area and who can work twice a day, in the morning and afternoons.

Karl Sturmanis is a relatively new addition to the Crossing Guard team, and is now stationed at Richard McBride elementary school.

After a lifetime of work as a biologist and land-use planner with First Nations in BC and northern Canada, he finds being a crossing guard in the community has unique rewards.

“I’ve had more chocolates and Christmas cards signed by kids than ever. And there’s even the occasional coffee service on a Friday afternoon,” he said.

As a biologist, he’s used to the outdoors.  But he also notes the challenges.

Making school zones safe for everyone…

“Traffic can be really challenging and safety is a concern,” said Sturmanis.

“You try to make an environment for the students and parents to feel safe. Crossing the street is one less thing they should have to worry about and I am happy to provide a bit of a safety umbrella. You get to know people and the kids really appreciate it…”

Former biologist and land use planner Karl Sturmanis now works to keep school zones safe…

Layzell said crossing guards are trained in traffic safety and work with New Westminster Police annually to refresh their skills.

Drivers in our school zones are reminded to slow down and look around – and obey laws:

  • Drivers in school zones must stay within a 30 km/h speed limit every school day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless otherwise posted.
  • Using mobile devices while driving is both illegal and dangerous.
  • Stopping or parking in prohibited areas is illegal.
  • Pedestrians must use marked crosswalks and not cross mid-block, diagonally or ‘j-walk.’

Across Canada, the national, charitable organization Parachute, dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives, is holding its annual “Canada’s Favourite Crossing Guard Contest”  for 2019, acknowledging crossing guards who often go above and beyond the call of duty in making extraordinary contributions to their community.

“We want our crossing guards at New Westminster Schools to know they really make a difference,” said Layzell.

“We appreciate them all.”