Drive past the new Lake Highlands North Aquatic Center on a sunny summer day and you’ll see laughing children swooshing down the slide and toddlers splashing in the kiddie pool. Be careful, though. You’ll also see kids dart in front of your vehicle, crossing from the parking lot at Lake Highlands High to the pool and back again when their swim day is done.
Student participants in Councilmember Adam McGough’s Youth Leadership Summit were part of the solution Friday, painting a crosswalk across Church Road to highlight the danger and encourage families and drivers to be careful.
“There’s not really a sanctioned place for people to walk across the street, so this will help families feel safer,” said Krista Nightengale, Managing Director of The Better Block, who arranged for city transportation officials to block access to the road for about an hour while teens worked. “We normally don’t shut down the streets (to install crosswalks), we usually just shut down a section of the street at a time so traffic can flow through. But since these are students, we’re being extra careful.”
The paint used by students was temporary – just kids’ finger paint – but McGough said a permanent crosswalk has already been approved and funded by city officials.
“It’s going to be safer,” said LHHS freshman Emily Couch, “you won’t have to jaywalk, and you won’t have to walk all the way down to the light at the corner.”
“This is good for the community,” agreed Lake Highlands resident and Townview sophomore Jillian Carraway. “It’s good for all of us to come together and work on something. Plus, we’re having fun.”
Adesua Aigbomian, a junior at LHHS, noted the danger crossing Church is a year-round problem.
“I see kids crossing the street, and in the mornings before school it’s really congested. You really have to take a leap of faith to cross. I think this will help a lot.”
“This will help kids get to school safely,” agreed junior Dixon Ponce. “It will give drivers more of an idea of where people will be crossing the street, and it will give people crossing a layout of where it’s safe to go.”
After 3 weeks with no rain in Lake Highlands, a gulley-washer came Sunday and washed away the temporary paint, but city crews will return to install a permanent crosswalk across Church Road soon.
In addition to learning about safe streets, kids at the leadership summit heard about the Forest Audelia Youth Boxing Gym, built a bench, heard about crime-fighting from Assistant U.S. Attorney P.J. Meitl of Project Safe Neighborhood, and met leaders from the Exchange Club, Women’s League, 100 Women of Lake Highlands, Pamper Lake Highlands, Emerging Leaders of Hamilton Park and other groups.
Also participating in the Youth Leadership Summit were Asher Thompson, Kate Thompson, Jillian Halwas, Keidrum Bell, Rachel Olowoporoku, Dayjus Hill, Chloe Phillips and Barbara Raygoza.