Wednesday is School Crossing Guard Appreciation Day in Ontario.
It’s being used to spread awareness about the importance of and potential dangers associated with the job.
Silvana Hall-Ufford has been helping students get to school safely for 11 years.
“We do get to know the children by name, and we hear about their days and their weekends,” she said.
Winchester Public School is on one of the busier streets in north Whitby. But in her time as a roving crossing guard, Hall-Ufford says she’s seen some close calls all over the community.
“We tend to see a lot of drivers who are in a great hurry, they’re not paying attention,” said Hall-Ufford.
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Ian Jones walks his son to school daily. He says having people like Hall-Ufford gives him peace of mind.
“As the kids get older and they’re coming independent, maybe that’s when you have more concern and these people become ever more valuable,” said Jones.
Fellow parent Ryan Lamash says “to have the crossing guards here is very important with the amount of kids that go to this school and the amount of traffic.”
Martine Robinson, the principal at Winchester Public School, says crossing guards are integral to the community.
“Our crossing guards do a great job at slowing down the traffic, make sure our families get across safely,” said Robinson.
It’s particularly important now as traffic is starting to pick up again.
“We have guards standing out and a car can go past them they can reach out and touch the car —
it’s a very dangerous situation,” said Faye Simic, Whitby lead crossing guard and program facilitator.
That’s just one of the issues Simic is concerned about. She says there have been over 20 incidents this year and even more not reported. However, they do get police involved if they have to.
“When a crossing guard is out on duty, that means they have their stop sign held up motorists need to stop and stay stopped until everyone, including the crossing guard, is off the street,” said Simic.
As for Silvana Hall-Ufford, she intends to be out there making sure students are safe as long as she can. But she hopes people will err on the side of caution when they’re in school zones.