Grant to enhance child pedestrian safety

Clayton County officials want to ensure the safety of all pedestrians, but there is particular concern with the safety of children who are pedestrians.

Safe Kids Clayton County, a community coalition led by the Clayton County Board of Health, received a $25,000 grant from Safe Kids USA’s “Walk This Way” program, said Board of Health Spokesman Joel Hall.

The program, he explained, is sponsored by FedEx and was created by Safe Kids USA to encourage safe behavior among motorists, and child pedestrians, as well as develop safer and more walkable communities.

Hall said Safe Kids USA reports that pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 5 to 14. Safe Kids Clayton County was founded in April, and is an affiliate of Safe Kids Georgia.

Hall said the coalition, along with various agencies, such as the Georgia State Patrol, the Clayton County Police Department, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, the Clayton County Transportation and Development Department, Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services, and Clayton County Public Schools, will meet, privately, on Monday, Oct. 31, and Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Board of Health, in Jonesboro.

Each meeting, which may last up to four hours, will include discussions about how to use this grant to enhance child-pedestrian safety in the county, he said.

“We will meet with representatives of those agencies to come up with a specific plan for what we want to do with the grant, and how we want to go about implanting those changes,” said Hall.

He said the Board of Health is aware that $25,000 isn’t a lot of money. “We will meet with those representatives to see how we can better use these funds,” he said.

Clayton Police Sgt. Otis Willis, III, said the department has already spotted pedestrian-safety concerns involving the county’s youths. He pointed to youngsters walking at night wearing dark clothing. He said they should wear bright colors, so they are visible to motorists. Youths should also walk on the shoulder of roads and avoid walking in the middle of the street, even in their neighborhoods, he said.

“If we educate them more, we will see less behavior like this,” said Willis. He said he believes the coalition will help enhance the department’s outreach efforts regarding pedestrian-safety among children.

The Board of Health, Hall said, was awarded the grant in early August. “This grant could not have come at a more appropriate time,” added Clayton County District Health Director Alpha Fowler Bryan.

“By initiating a pedestrian-safety task force, citizens and county agencies will be able to remove potential hazards and identify areas ... where pedestrian safety can be improved,” she said.