School children march in protest for health and safety

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 11            March 15, 2001

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School children hold peaceful demonstration

"Have a heart, slow your cart!" "Safety is a must, kill the dust!" "Be a star, slow your car!" These were some of the phrases that students from Island Academy, Lydia's Institute of Fine Education (LIFE) and Isla Bonita Elementary, chanted last week during a peaceful protest to bring safety awareness to the drivers of this community.

    The protest, the idea of Mrs. Dixie Summerscales of Island Academy, was scheduled as part of the activities for Children's Week. Although this specific activity was postponed for the following week, the children certainly made an impression as they paraded through the main streets of San Pedro with posters and banners expressing their concerns about the traffic situation on the island. Accompanying the students in this "demonstration" were Traffic Warden for San Pedro Ralph Hulse, Assistant Inspector of Police Linden Flowers and several members of the San Pedro Police Department.

    Ashley Varela a student from LIFE told the San Pedro Sun, "We hope that we can make a difference through this walk. We are trying to get drivers to slow down. The area where my school is located has become very dangerous because of fast drivers. We ask them to slow down for the safety of all children, visitors and other pedestrians."

    Andrew Alamilla Borham of Island Academy commented, "This parade is part of a presentation concerning safety. A major problem we are experiencing is too much dust caused by speeding drivers. We hope this protest will get the attention of the drivers."

    Standard VI students of Island Academy had the following comments concerning the safety walk.

    Chefy Paz - "I personally think taxis are good to get around in. They get you to places quicker and they are necessary to the island but I think the drivers are not really careful and they seem like they haven't learned the basics of driving and they should just slow it down."

    Hussein Harmouche - "I hope the walk did a lot of good for the community."

    Kevin Villatoro - "The cars and trucks have been two big problems. I hope our safety walk encouraged others to support our cause and slow down themselves."

    Joey Beisser - "No comment!"

    Courtney Bowen - "I feel that the oversized trucks and vans that have recently come to the island are starting to diminish La Isla Bonita's beauty. If the drivers had learned how to drive properly, they would not speed and would not be so reckless. I watch these vehicles speed by with a cloud of dust behind them everyday. I hope the support of the children of the island will encourage the vehicle owners to learn the rules of the road, and then to obey them."

    Kiera Bauman - "I hope the walk benefited the community by encouraging drivers to slow down. I hope it made them realize that our walk expressed our concern for safety on the streets."

    There you have it folks. The future leaders of this community and this country have taken this serious problem into their own hands. They have taken the initiative of showing others that the traffic situation is indeed a concern not only for adults but also for the children. We hope this exemplary action will be well received and improvements to this situation will occur. As one of the posters read, "Dust Busters say kids have the right to be safe." A big thumbs up to the organizers, teachers, the police and traffic departments and all the students who participated.
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