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Western Hills Students Promote Pedestrian Safety at Covedale School

Western Hills University High School students are paving the way for safer streets while empowering younger students at Covedale School.

The pedestrian safety assembly, held at Covedale School early April, marks the culmination of nearly five years of work, in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS).

Western Hills teacher Jeffrey Demaree led the charge alongside students.

“A spate of road traffic accidents involving CPS students walking to school motivated us to engage our community leaders in finding a solution,” Demaree said.

The project’s scope includes a Day of Action which prompted Cincinnati City Council to increase funding for pedestrian safety and participation in ODOT Walk Audits to identify issues related to pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Jaia Bankhead is among the 30 eighth-grade students who participated in the pedestrian safety presentation, notably attended by Ohio state representatives Bill Seitz and Dani Isaacsohn.

“Pedestrian safety is important because it teaches not just kids, but everyone how to make it home safely without being injured,” Bankhead said. “I have learned a lot from this project because it taught me the safety and importance of making it home. It taught me how to be more aware of my surroundings and environment.”

The project aligned to students’ classwork, learning how to write argumentative essays and learning the history of pedestrian safety at Western Hills High School.

“The assembly was important on several levels. First, my students potentially saved the life of a younger classmate through their actions. Education prevents tragedy. Second, they were better educated themselves as to why the issue was important; it is when we teach something that we truly understand it,” Demaree said. “Finally, this project served as an example to the whole school family and community as to the importance of this subject.”

Student Tylan Byrd improved his communication skills while working on the project and learned how to remain calm under pressure. Both Byrd and Bankhead are also imparting their wisdom on pedestrian safety.

“I would tell students to pay attention to the road, keep your eyes off your phone and look both ways before crossing,” Byrd said.

“I would tell my fellow classmates to stop trying to cross the street so fast, be patient and don't cross the street before the light turns red. Don't rush to cross somewhere without looking both ways,” Bankhead said. “It's important to worry about your life rather than trying to hurry up and cross the street, possibly risking your life.”

While Demaree’s goal to see pedestrian traffic incidents eradicated remains, there’s still success to celebrate.

“As an educator, I wanted to show that students can be empowered to successfully change their community in a positive way,” Demaree said. “It is a tremendous feeling as a social studies educator to witness your students not simply learn about history, but to make it. They learned the power of civic involvement and how we as citizens not only participate in our democracy, but we create it.”

In a sentiment echoed by students, mission accomplished.