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Safe Kids Award Goes to McKinley Mom Who Started 'Walking School Bus' Program

Sarah Lerand recognized for efforts to improve safety conditions around school hemmed in by busy thoroughfares.

During 2011, school zone safety became a topic of concern for all of Wauwatosa.

Several accidents – a 4-year-old being struck by a car in front of Eisenhower Elementary School, another student hit near , another near and suffering a severe leg fracture – opened eyes and created calls for action.

At , action was already under way. Before any accident happened there, McKinley mom Sarah Lerand recognized the dangers inherent in traffic congestion nearby to busy West North Avenue and Swan Boulevard, and she began a campaign to minimize the danger.

On Wednesday, Lerand will herself be recognized for contributing to a safer community when she will receive an award from Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin for her efforts.

The award will be presented at the group's Annual Recognition Breakfast at 9 a.m. at the Children's Health Education Center, 1533 N RiverCenter Dr. in Milwaukee.

"We selected individuals for their contributions to the prevention of accidental childhood injuries, and you were selected for your efforts in pedestrian safety," wrote Lisa Klindt Simpson in announcing the award. "Thank you for all you do."

Among Lerand's contributions to safety at McKinley have been the "Walking School Bus" program that groups neighboring families to walk together to school under adult supervision; improving the marking of busy intersections in the school area; and greatly increased communications with crossing guards and the company that employs them.

Lerand, along with district Ald. Jeff Roznowski and McKinley Principal Mark Carter, spent plenty of time and energy studying the area. They asked for and received detailed traffic data from the Wauwatosa police that revealed a number of threats to child safety.

As a result of "doing their homework," they have won several private grants to pay for their programs, resulting in no cost to taxpayers. But their programs have also begun to serve as a guide to the entire as it takes on the issue of addressing safety at and around all its schools.

Julie Conner April 16, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I think this is wonderful. My kids were hit by a car crossing 90th and North with a crossing guard when they attended McKinley, it was terrible and should have never happened. Congrats on the great idea!
Sarah Lerand April 19, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Thank you to everyone in the Tosa community who has supported the walk to school efforts. Principal, Mark Carter and Alderman, Jeff Roznowski along with the McKinley community have been key supporters of the effort. I am also thankful to Jim Price, Wauwatosa Patch and Stefanie Scott of Tosa Now for including the story in our efforts to educate the community.

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