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Parents Taking Action to help kids cross safely

URBANA -- Parents are Taking Action to make sure children get to and from school safely.
URBANA -- Parents are Taking Action to make sure children get to and from school safely. They have to do it because others won't.

Parents are upset about a street corner. They say Kinch and Washington streets are a problem because of traffic. They fear getting kids to and from Prairie Elementary isn't safe. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield finds out how they're responding.

They're becoming crossing guards. Parents say help is limited as kids head to school, so they took matters into their own hands and are helping out where they can.

Tanya is the only crossing guard for Prairie Elementary students. She's the only official protection these kids have coming and going across Kinch and Washington streets.

"In the afternoon, it's a nightmare."

That is, until Janelle Pleasure formed a team of parents to help her out.

"We had an incident out here last year where a student was hit and I think that was one of the biggest wake up calls we've had."

After a few more close calls, five parents stepped up. They're out here every day, guiding cars in and out, safely and quickly, while Tanya gets dozens of little ones across the street.

"When you're trying to back out, it's difficult to see around other cars. That's why we placed the cones in order to keep the kids in a safe area to walk home."

"We kind of worked together and, as a team, I think we've been really successful so far."

But, a few parent volunteers can't stop the traffic jams completely and they want more help to control it.

"I would like a stoplight or more police presence everyday in order for our kids to cross the street safety and so our parents can get out of the parking lot so we don't have congestion and confusion. We have contacted the police department, we have actually had our wonderful principal call the city to see if there was something they could arrange, something they could do."

They say, as of mid-school year, nothing's changed. But, they believe it takes a village and hopes someone hears their cry to protect this one; not to mention, give ol' Tanya here a break.

"We would hate for something to happen to one of our children, let along other people's children, so I think that's what motivates us, what keeps us going to pursue this. Rain, sleet or snow, we will be like the post office. We are here for these kids."

The school district issued a statement on the matter:

        Safety is of the utmost importance to all of us at Urbana School
        District #116 and we will continue to work with Prairie's PTA to
        help resolve any issues. We encourage the community and our
        families to always follow safe driving rules in school zones to help
        us keep our students safe.

Meanwhile, parents in Champaign are still pushing for crossing guards. A student was hit by a car while crossing the street at Prospect and Daniel a few months ago. She was OK, but parents demanded the city make changes.

It's added new warning signs for drivers. The city is also looking at adding crossing guards to the area. A final decision could come next week.
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