Two elementary school children in Massachusetts took matters into their own hands to improve traffic safety outside their school, proposing an innovative crosswalk makeover that recently became a reality.
Friends Eric and Isa sprang into action to see change affected outside Brooks Elementary School after Eric’s brother came close to being seriously injured by a car he said was speeding.
“My brother got hit by a car and I wanted to do something in the community,” Eric, 11, told InsideEdition.com. “Then, one day … there was a letter in the mail. It was a flyer for this club.”
The flyer was for the Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, or the CCSR, a grant-funded program that believes in teaching children how to be empathetic leaders by fostering student-led projects that serve the community.
“Our mission is to make the world a better place, one student at a time,” CCSR program coordinator and teacher Michael Skorker said. “And we’re really centered around service learning, project-based learning, doing everything we can to make the world a better place in whatever aspect we are passionate about.”
Eric and Isa, 10, paired up find a cost-effective and easily implementable way to make crossing the street a safer endeavor.
“We knew we wanted to do something to help slow cars down that wouldn’t be too drastic,” Isa said. “We were doing a lot of research … and we found this idea and were like, ‘Well, this is a really good idea. We like it. I think we should give it a go.’”
The idea was for a 3D crosswalk, an illusion painted on the driveway of the school in such a way that it appears to rise out of the ground as a driver approaches.
“When cars are coming toward me right now, as cars are coming this way, they would see it as 3D,” Isa explained.
The pair first came across the idea while researching traffic-calming measures and saw that communities in foreign countries such as Iceland, England and India employ the 3D technique. Trials of a similar design in New Delhi are reported to show a 40 percent decrease in average speed where the crosswalks are utilized.
But before Isa and Eric could make their goal a reality, they had a lot of work to do.
“First, we had to meet with the mayor and get her approval on it,” Isa said.
So the fourth and fifth graders headed to Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke’s office to make their pitch.
“It wasn’t really nerve-racking or anything because I’m not afraid of presenting in front of people,” Eric said.
Their confidence and preparedness paid off.
“They were proud, they were articulate, and they really demonstrated the need for something like this, so the Traffic Commission unanimously supported their idea,” said Burke, who threw her support behind Eric and Isa.
“We actually got in touch with Iceland to get some of the dimensions on how they did it. “
But still, their work was not done.
“Then, we had to go to a Traffic Commission hearing and we had to present our idea,” Isa said. “A lot of the time, [officials] said they needed to do more research.”
It was a test of patience for Isa and Eric, who by then had transferred to a different school, but was still invested in seeing his and Isa’s vision come to life.
“That’s the hardest part: waiting a year for it,” Eric said
“We were like, ‘Wow, is this ever going to happen?’” Isa said. “Then … I found out that it was going to happen and then I got to see it for the first time and it was really amazing.”
The crosswalk is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S.
“It certainly is a traffic-calming measure,” Burke said. “People take note of it. It’s all about the mental, the psyche, and that it forces you to slow down just like a flashing stop sign would.”
The positive reaction to the crosswalk has gone beyond Medford, as authorities find themselves fielding emails and calls from communities across the country and beyond that want to do something similar.
“We’re sharing our dimensional requirements with them, as well, just as Iceland shared with us,” Burke said.
The 3D crosswalk has so far inspired authorities to add them to roads near three other elementary schools in Medford. The processes to see such crosswalks installed on public roads can be more lengthy and as such, officials are focusing on adding them to roads controlled by schools, but Isa and Eric were nonetheless to see their work have a ripple effect in the community.
“It was a lot of effort, a lot of work put into this project,” Isa said. “Definitely it paid off.”
Eric agreed, saying: “It really satisfies me that my change in the community really helped. … Really, if you put your mind to it, anything’s possible.”