Crossing Guard – Elizabeth

Congratulations Elizabeth!

This is Elizabeth Savary, a crossing guard for 13 years at Maurice Cody Public School. She keeps a supply of coins to loan those who forget money for Freezie Friday and has a stash of winter hats, mitts and scarves for those who need to dress more warmly for the walk home. She always has treats for the neighbourhood dogs and she is one of three 2019 CANADA’S FAVORITE CROSSING GUARD WINNERS! Click here to read all about Parachute and their mission “Creating a safer Canada by preventing serious and fatal injuries through evidence-based solutions that advocate and educate.” We had a chance to interview the fabulous Elizabeth and learn more about her:

What do you enjoy most about being a crossing guard for Cody? Or what is a fond or happy memory of your time on the job? Interacting with children, listening to their stories and helping them with projects or questions.

What are one or two things you wish children and their parents and caregivers would remember when making their way to school and across the street? For children: When I’m in the middle of the road with an active crossing and you are running toward the crossing corner to try to make it across before I leave, please make sure I see you before running out. During the late afternoon crossing, drivers can’t always see you when the bright sun is low and directly in their eyes. On a dark, rainy or overcast day, it is difficult for drivers to see pedestrians who are wearing dark clothing. It’s a good idea to wear at least one piece of clothing that is bright, or even a fluorescent arm band. Don’t trust a driver’s turn signal to be an accurate indicator of which direction they are planning to go in.

What is the number one thing you wish drivers in the area kept in mind? Drivers, please remember to comply with the 30KM speed limit and take turns with entities that are equal to you, not with pedestrians. Otherwise their right-of-way is meaningless. You don’t share the road with pedestrians; you yield the road to them. There are no circumstances that legally allow you to take the right-of-way over a pedestrian unless that pedestrian has forfeited their right-of-way and conveyed that to you. If you encounter a pedestrian at any point while driving through the designated pedestrian walking boundaries, you are the entity that did not have the right to proceed. At a four-way stop intersection, pedestrian right-of-way is unconditional. It does not depend on how late you are or how many cars are waiting or how long they have been waiting. It is worth noting also that a crossing guard does not have the right to forfeit a pedestrian’s right-of-way; only the pedestrian can do that for themselves. The only exception is when there is an emergency or a dangerous situation. In that case, a police officer can forfeit a pedestrian’s right-of-way (usually for their own safety.)

Is there something you wish parents and caregivers would let children know about/or remind children about as school starts up again regarding street safety? The bottom line is that we want our children (and all pedestrians) to be safe. Remember that even good drivers can make mistakes – most accidents are not intentional but are a result of human error due to drivers being distracted or making bad judgement calls or having attitude problems or experiencing rage. So, stop at the corner before proceeding across the intersection, point your finger in the direction you intend to go, so drivers know your intention and that you are ready to cross. Once you step out onto the road – walk. Don’t run. Don’t play games or fight with one another or bounce balls while you are crossing the road.

What is something you wish the community knew about what a crossing guard does, which they might not know or appreciate? Well, I don’t know what other crossing guards do, but in the warmer months when we have Freezie Fridays, I like to have a supply of coins available in case the nannies or parents forget their freezie money. It breaks my heart to see someone crying simply because the caregiver forgot the freezie money. I used to keep it in the trunk of my bike and the nannies knew it was there for anyone to use on the honor system. In the cold months, I usually keep a supply of children’s hats, mitts and neck warmers, etc. in case it’s a dangerously cold day and someone loses theirs or the teenagers realize it’s too cold to be more concerned with the fashion statement than their freezing ears and fingers. I have also walked children home who found themselves stranded without their caregivers. Or gave one of the older children lunch when their lunch plans didn’t work out (pizza or a hot lunch from the Holland family at the crossing corner.) If I know the children’s birthdays, I like to give them a small gift such as flying rocket balloons or chocolate covered marshmallows, etc.

Lastly, you are out here in all kinds of weather – rain, snow, hail, and extreme heat! What is your trick for staying so upbeat, professional and friendly? I have an extensive supply of appropriate clothing and footwear to protect from extreme temperatures. I keep hydrated, use the hand and foot pads in the winter, try to get proper rest, and use stress management regularly.