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Workers trained to provide Safe Passage for CPS students

Friday, August 16, 2013

Safe Passage workers are assigned designated routes to make sure Chicago Public School students get to and from class safely.

Anita Willams hopes that she can help make Chicago streets safer for kids preparing to go back to school this fall.

The Chatham resident is one of over 600 Safe Passage workers hired to protect Chicago Public School students as they walk to and from their new schools.

On Friday, approximately 250 men and women went through another day of training for the Safe Passage program. At the training, workers learned how to anticipate problems when they happen and how to deal with a problem if it does occur.

"I hope to make a big impact and I want the children to know that we're out here to protect them and to keep them safe," said Safe Passage worker Mary Farr.

The training session at Lindblom Math and Science Academy included a drill which involved workers building a tower of out newspapers sturdy enough to hold an egg.

Facilitator Bishop James Dukes tested the towers to see if they were sturdy enough.

"We must secure our eggs and get them to their highest point," Bishop Dukes said.

The eggs represent school children.

Because of the historic number of school closings, CPS added 53 new routes for 46 welcoming schools and also added 7 co-locations.

Safe Passage has been working with the community and with the Chicago Police Department to ensure a safe commute for students heading to and from school.

"Safe Passage, like we said, are the eyes and ears, their presence is a deterrent," said Kevin Ryan, commander of the Chicago Police Department.

Jadine Chou, head of security for the Chicago Public Schools said that CPS will also use camera recordings to monitor the city's neighborhoods.

Parents like Renard Willams also want to ensure that children heading to school are safe.

"I know the importance of keeping kids safe, Willams said. "I grew up in a violent neighborhood, so anything I can do to help and I'm there."

Classes resume for students Monday Aug. 26, 2013.

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