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St. Jacobs girls work to counter traffic concerns

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THIS WEEK

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Drivers who ignore the speed limit are being asked to slow down by two St. Jacobs girls who are worried for the safety of their neighbours and local wildlife.

Mackayla Werstine and Emilya Hill Wood-Salomon live on the north end of St. Jacobs and spent the long weekend making signs and posters which now line King Street North and Northside Drive.

They decided to make matters into their own hands on May 17 when they saw a dog get hit by a car.

“We witnessed something that no one really wants to witness. It all started when Mackayla and I got off of the bus one day and we did our normal routine – go to the swings and swing, we talk – but we were facing her house and her neighbours and their dog were out. The dog ran around the street to visit his friends, they were calling him back at the same time,” Emilya said.

The dog was then struck by a car.

“So we went to our house to calm ourselves down. We noticed that people were speeding on this road, so I think it’s part of our healing process that we wanted to make these signs,” Emilya said.

They asked neighbours if they could put up signs on their lawns, and most were supportive. They’ve also put flyers in the post office in St. Jacobs, Foodland in Elmira, and Pet Valu in Elmira. They’re hoping to also put them up in the St. Jacobs Wal-Mart, and the Elmira post office.

Mackayla says before this they’d been noticing that people often speed down their roads, so they brainstormed what they could do and decided to make signs to help drivers realize they’re driving through a residential area.

“We just want to make sure that nobody gets hurt, like children. And it’s not just for us, it’s for everywhere. A lot of deaths occur because people are taking roads for granted and we just don’t want anybody to get hurt. It’s bad enough a dog, but a child playing on the road, that would be even worse,” Mackayla said.

She notes that with the construction going on in downtown St. Jacobs they’re noticing more people speeding down the road, and using it as a shortcut to Elmira.

“One person said we noticed that happening and they were really happy that we were going to do something about it,” Emilya said.

Emilya’s mom, Julie Hill Wood-Salomon, says they spent most of Saturday and Sunday on the long weekend working on the posters and flyers and getting them laminated. Then they spent last week putting them up after asking neighbours and stores for permission.

“Everything has been their idea. It’s been totally driven by them and everything they’ve come up with, just wanting to do it, putting in the time, everything has been their driving,” Hill Wood-Salomon said.

They originally thought they would make the flyers and put them in mailboxes on the two roads, but they realized it’s not really their neighbours doing the speeding. They asked their principal, James Noonan at St. Teresa Catholic School in Elmira, if he could copy them.

“He said it would bring more awareness if children wrote it because it would show that kids care about it. He said he would be happy to copy it, but we decided he was right. He was a big help,” Mackayla said.

They’re making a PowerPoint presentation and they’re hoping to present it at some sort of town meeting, and also to their class.

“We just really want to spread awareness about this because we saw a dog get hit and I think speeding was half of the problem…We want them to think of the road as their family living here,” Emilya said.

“People are taking this road for granted because they think it’s a shortcut that nobody really cares about,” Mackayla said.

They’re hopeful their signs will act as a reminder for drivers to abide the speed limit in all residential areas, not just theirs.

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