Last July, senior Victor Aldridge ’21 took on the role of teaching street safety to young children in the community of Lauro De Freitas, Brazil, where his family lives. While only in Brazil for four short weeks, Aldridge was not only able to put together and receive approval for his presentation, but he was also able to completely finish the project over the course of a week and a half during his visit.
Almost 45,000 pedestrians living in Brazil died as a result of traffic injuries in 2013. A large fraction of those killed were kids. Aldridge was saddened by this and wanted to make a change. He said he developed the idea for this project after he witnessed one way in which people safely crossed the road in Bridgeport, CT. A neon flag would be taken from one side of the road, moved across the street with the pedestrian, and then left in a designated compartment on the other side of the street. Drivers were more aware of pedestrians crossing the road. Aldridge wanted to help implement this idea, particularly around schools in Lauro de Freitas, to keep children safe.
Aldridge presented his idea to several groups of students in three different public schools in Brazil. During these presentations, he explained to the children how the system worked. He showed them what the compartment and flag looked like and how the two would work together. The flag would serve to get the driver’s attention and allow the students to cross over without a problem. Above all, Aldridge explained the importance of remaining safe around school. The areas where these public schools are located are generally unsafe and have few crosswalks and sidewalks. Many students normally walk to school or take public transportation because the public school system doesn’t provide transportation. Aldridge wanted this project to make all pedestrians and students feel safe when moving around and doing basic everyday things like crossing the street.
The project was a success. Aldridge says he was able to “go to a variety of schools, receive approval from the government, and launch the project in a week and a half through dedication and commitment to getting it done and keeping others safe.” He educated the students at the schools and at Projeto Crescer, a nonprofit organization designed to help build “physical, mental, emotional and social well-being through a complete educational program for the children living in Bahia, Northeast Brazil.” He installed the crossing flags and compartments and tested the flag system.