All students need opportunities to develop their higher-order skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and problem solving. Problem framing can be the most difficult part of bringing the creative problem solving process into the classroom. I-Think was curious; in order to bring complex problems into the classroom, can we find a relevant, meaningful challenge that many classrooms could
engage with across South Central Ontario? And so began the Crosswalk Challenge of 2018.
Classrooms had 37 days to go from understanding the challenge to crafting recommendations. During this month, students were engaging parents in discussions of how to best improve pedestrian safety in their own communities and they were demonstrating social activism by writing letters to their trustees, city councillors and the mayors advocating for changes to make their intersections safer. The Crosswalk Company was the perfect organization to have students consult to as it was created by three grade 6 social entrepreneurs in response to the tragic death of Georgia Walsh.
Quinlan Birmingham, Arnav Shah and Oliver Wong, started the organization to help pedestrians become more visible as they crossed busy intersections. The Crosswalk Company provides 12 flags at each intersection, 6 canisters to hold the flags and instructions so that pedestrians know to hold the flag up, wait till drivers stop, cross the intersection and return the flag to a canister. There are enough flags for pedestrians to circle back and forth. They started in the summer of 2017 with one intersection and have expanded their flag system to six intersections. The challenge is one that is relevant to every school and community.
The Crosswalk Company identified 2 challenges with which they needed support:
Grades 1-4 Challenge: How might we reduce flag theft? At certain crosswalks, flags have gone missing especially at intersections that are further from the school.
Grades 5-8 Challenge: How might each intersection be maintained through building community engagement? The Crosswalk Company has had to maintain the intersections to ensure that the canisters are mounted securely, there are enough flags and the signage is accessible by all pedestrians.