My favorite thing to do while walking by myself was listening to music. I love music. As a child, I was always singing and being scolded by my Aunt Joyce for humming at inappropriate times. But music is soothing to me; it makes me feel happy, playful and, at times, sad. Listening to music and walking seemed, to me, a harmless combination. Needless to say, I soon found out the danger of it.
If there is one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am not the most coordinated person. I know this because I ran cross-country in high school, and I still have the scars to prove it. Even the smallest branch or bump in the road used to be enough to bring me tumbling to the ground in spectacular fashion.
This tradition of tumbling continued when I left for college and became a tour guide. If you have ever been on a tour of a college campus, you can imagine that it is not the best job for the uncoordinated. Leading the tours required me to walk backwards in front of large groups of people. On my very first tour as a freshly-minted guide, I ran into no less than five tree branches and several innocent bystanders, not to mention nearly being struck by a passing car.
One of the most interesting aspects of working at Safe Kids is that we get to play "detective.” If we see a statistic we find alarming, like that every hour of every day a teen is hit by a car and killed or injured in the U.S., we get to try to figure out the five W’s, who, what, where, when and why. Last year, we discovered that the pedestrian death rate for teens is twice that of younger children. This year, we took our detective role one step further. We surveyed 1000 teens ages 13-18 to understand more about their walking habits: what they’re doing, and why.
I spend most of my days at a desk helping people and communities across the county who work to keep kids safe. As fulfilling as that is, my favorite experiences are those that allow me to help in the community hands on.
Safe Kids implements a 10-country program called Walk This Way, which works around the world to make communities safer for children to walk. It’s hard to believe that there are places in the world where simply walking to school is not safe for children. But we know we can change this reality for children and families.
Sunday, November 17, is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. For many people around the world, it’s a time to remember the children and adults who have been killed or injured in road crashes. For me, it’s a time to remember all the reasons I’m so passionate about the work I do.
As we get closer to International Walk to School Day on October 9, I can’t help but think about how many more countries are desperately in need of pedestrian safety initiatives and education. One of those countries is my home in Simferopol, Ukraine.
October 9 is International Walk to School Day. We’re teaming up with FedEx to host events across the country that teach kids all the fun things about walking to school. It all happens while they’re outside, active and having fun, which is the best way to learn
Have you ever texted a friend while walking down a sidewalk and thought ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ For this unsuspecting guy, it was almost running into a hungry-looking brown bear. Luckily, everyone turned out okay. But what if that bear had been a car going 30 miles per hour?
Our research report, “Teens and Distraction: An In-Depth Look at Teens’ Walking Behaviors,” is an observational study that tracked a remarkable 34,000 middle- and high-school students crossing the street in a school zone. A shocking 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 8 middle school students were observed crossing the street while distracted by technology.