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You Are Never Too Young to Teach Transit Safety

Heather Redfern
Public Information Manager

Sometimes children can help us learn life's most valuable lessons. To assist with spreading the message of being aware of one's surroundings and not distracted by loud music, smartphones and other handheld devices while commuting on SEPTA, the Authority is enlisting the help of the kindergarten through eighth grade students from Philadelphia's St. Mary Interparochial School.

To kick-off a year-long partnership with St. Mary's, Ed Abel, SEPTA's Director of Operational Safety, visited the school on November 2 and presented important safety transit tips to the students - many of whom ride SEPTA - during two assembly programs. The students watched SEPTA safety videos and answered questions about how to be safe when riding transit or walking near transportation facilities.

Following the assemblies, Abel introduced SEPTA's mascot Paws to help reveal how the students will help the Authority spread the "Be Aware of Your Surroundings" message. "We want all of you boys and girls to think about safety messages you feel should be shared with the public and draw posters that we can use on car cards that will be put on all of our buses, trains and trolleys and on our 'Make the Safe Choice' bus wrap," said Abel. "Your artwork will be seen all over the Philadelphia region and will help us teach others how to be safe when using our system."

From now through January, St. Mary's students will work on their designs. In addition to the car cards, St. Mary students in grades 3-8 will write safety-themed essays. "The ideas conveyed by the children will be used in the brochures we distribute during our system-wide Safety Day and at the Safety Blitz events we hold throughout the year," said Jim Fox, SEPTA's Assistant General Manager of System Safety.

SEPTA officials will review the students' work and choose the posters and essays that best express "Be Aware of Your Surroundings" from kindergarten through second graders, third through fifth graders and sixth through eighth graders. Those top designs and essays will be revealed on May 2, 2018, SEPTA's sixth annual "Make the Safe Choice" Safety Day.

"The students and their teachers have been very enthusiastic about helping us through this partnership and we are looking forward to seeing the final results," said Fox. "I am sure it will be difficult to choose top submissions from all of the entries we will receive."

Not only will the students have their work featured on 3,000 SEPTA buses, trains and trolleys and brochures distributed to tens of thousands of SEPTA customers, the grand prize winners will get to spend a special "Day at SEPTA", going behind the scenes to learn what makes the Authority run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. "The boys and girls will visit one of our depots, ride a bus through the bus wash, visit our Control Center, meet SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel and a member of the K-9 unit and more," said Abel. "It will be a fun day and a reward fitting for months of hard work."

Director of Operational Safety Ed Abel spoke to St. Mary's students about the safest ways to travel on the SEPTA system.

Paws was a hit with the kindergarten through second grade St. Mary students.

Abel and Paws talk to St. Mary's third through eighth graders about the essay and poster contests.

Paws has new fans at St. Mary's.

The students' work will be incorporated in the design of SEPTA's "Make the Safe Choice" bus.