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Pillars of the community

March 21, 2011


Their yellow jackets are an unmistakable bright spot in most neighbourhoods. School crossing patrols – or as they are more affectionately and familiarly known, lollipop men and women – have been keeping streets safe and enjoyable for fifty years, helping generations cross the road each morning. But recent council budget cuts have placed many of them on the chopping block, amounting to a “terrible blow” according to one road safety campaigner.

Lollipop people play an invaluable role in the community, helping to teach children (and drivers) safe road behaviour and ensure that they feel comfortable walking to school. Younger children often feel safer with a lollipop person present and can build up the confidence to travel more independently at an earlier age – all the more essential given the peak in child pedestrian collisions that arises when children move from primary to secondary school and start walking to school without having developed the road sense they need.

This quiet but vital work sees lollipop people take on hero status in many people’s eyes – but there’s no shortage of more striking examples to choose from. A Dorchester lollipop woman relates one of many incidents: “I just caught the little boy from the corner of my eye running into the road and I managed to stop him with my arm. If I wasn’t there he would have got hit by the car…this isn’t the first time this has happened either.”

Lollipop people are also well-respected figures in the community. Many lollipop people get to know local children, who appreciate what they do – children even vote annually in national contests for lollipop person of the year. Their brightly coloured presence contributes to a neighbourhood that’s healthy and walking-friendly, where people come first.

This is what Living Streets is all about. As part of our campaign to promote walking-friendly communities, we’re naming lollipop people this week’s Neighbourhood Hero.

-Nicholas

Love being able to walk your child safely to the local school? What would it mean to you if this wasn’t possible? Tell us your story

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