Lollipop kids get their sweet reward

MICHAEL FALLOW
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012
Tim Shadbolt
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
THIS WAY: Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt leads a cheerful parade of school crossing patrollers from Wachner Place to the Town Hall as part of the annual civic thank you for their service to the community.

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A couple of hundred trustworthy kids were honoured in Invercargill yesterday.

In countries like England and Australia the tradition of the lollipop man controlling school crossings holds fast and the task falls strictly to adults.

But New Zealand is rare in the extent to which children - though carefully taught and with adult supervision at hand - are expected to take on the job.

The latest host of school patrol children to live up to that duty marched happily through the inner city yesterday after receiving their annual vote of thanks from the police, the Invercargill City Council and Road Safety Southland.

Seven schools and about 200 children were involved this year, co-ordinator Louise Dickson of Invercargill Middle School said, and once again they had been outstanding.

"When you think about it, for many this is their first taste of community service," she said.

Police education officer Martin Lohrey said city engineers administered the patrol placements, markings and equipment, while police trained the kids and oversaw the patrols.

But it was the schools themselves, their children, parents and teachers, who were the ones doing it daily, he said.

The students were not only helping their communities, but were learning speed and distance road safety rules.

The programme also included young bus wardens who liaised between drivers, parents and schools about issues ranging from behaviour and absenteeism to any dangerous pickup points they saw.

A St Theresa's crossing patroller, Hayden Buckby, said that there were times heading out into the rain and cold when the job didn't seem like such a good idea, and as for drivers "sometimes they're a bit impatient". But in the end it was still really worthwhile.

Classmate Je Eun Lee agreed. "It's to protect the kids."

Mayor Tim Shadbolt thanked the patrollers: "Although the council may build the roads and footpaths, at the end of the day it's the volunteers [who] help to make those roads and footpaths safe," he said.

"We want to be a child and family-friendly city and it's only through volunteer work that so many aspects of our city are able to function."

Before the kids headed off on a march from Wachner Place to the town hall, then a bus trip to Splash Palace, Constable Lohrey turned to the mayor.

"Mayor Tim, you've been on a few marches. Is there any advice you can give about how to enjoy the march and get your message across?"

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The mayor reflected just a moment and replied: "Keep out of trouble."

- The Southland Times

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