You may not know Lorna Melitzer, but if you have ever driven through downtown Elmira in the morning or afternoon chances are you have seen her standing at the corner of Arthur and Church streets.
Melitzer is a crossing guard and has been at her post for the last four years. “It is a great way to help out in the community and I really enjoy meeting all the people especially the kids,” said Melitzer. “It is good to know that I am making a difference and helping out the 20 children I see daily cross these busy streets safely.”
On Feb. 15 the Waterloo Region District School Board and Waterloo Catholic District School Board, along with Waterloo Public Health, celebrated crossing guard appreciation day.
“We are celebrating the over 200 men and women that act as crossing guards in the Waterloo Region and work faithfully in all kinds of weather as they make sure our children walk safely to school,” said Ruth Dyck, a Public Health nurse who works with the Active and Safe Routes to School Workgroup. “It is not their favorite time of year to be outside standing at street corners waiting to help children across the street, but they do it day in and day out and we are appreciative of their work. They are there whether it is windy, snowing or raining they are faithfully working for our children’s safety.”
Melitzer said she does not mind the weather and looks forward to greeting all the children and some adults that walk her route every day.
To coincide with crossing guard appreciation day the region created Winter Walk Day, a day to celebrate winter walking and encourage students to walk to school.
“Often winter is a time when students feel that it is a chance to hibernate and that they don’t need to walk to school or it is just as easy to get a ride from mom or dad and we are trying to celebrate winter walking,” said Dyck. “We encourage students to walk to school because the fresh air is good for them, it is healthy and we know that students that are active are more alert and ready to learn and it is an important source of their daily physical activity.”
It has environmental benefits as well as it is emissions free and there would be less cars on the road if children just walk to school, said Dyck.
The most common complaint heard from school children is that it is too cold or dark to walk to school in the winter, but Dyck encourages them to be vigilant and dress for the weather.
“By staying warm with the proper clothes walking in the winter is as good for you as a walk in the summer. We are trying to encourage them to get rid of their winter blahs by being active and that starts with simply walking to school.”