Arnav, Oliver and Quinlan with parents and Roger Martin

Arnav, Oliver and Quinlan with parents and Roger Martin

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.

Using the Integrative Thinking process of #propro, and the tools of the Ladder of Inference and Causal Model, students examined the problems, created solutions to the challenges and began to enact change within their school community. The following are a few of the excellent recommendations that students provided to the Crosswalk Company:

School based solutions

  • Labelling flags with the school name and messages such as: ‘This flag is needed for safety’ and ‘Please return to….’
  • Each September, schools will send out an order form for students and families to purchase a flag that students could carry with them at all times in their backpack. The flags could be used at all intersections to help them be more visible to drivers

School Community Partnerships

  •  ‘Adopt a Crosswalk’ Program for individuals aged 18 and older who will perform checks on the crosswalk to replace broken or missing parts. Part of the application required applicants to answer: give 2 reasons why you want to take on the responsibility of adopting a crosswalk. A variation on this idea included schools engaging with retired residents within the community to maintain their local interaction
  • Set up a free lemonade stand to provide refreshments to people as students explained the purpose of and procedures for the flag system to use it safely at their local intersection

Check out how they used all of the Integrative Thinking tools in the challenge; engaged parents through google surveys; and wrote to the trustee, city councillor and mayor.

Check out their innovative system for flags, and how they named many different unsafe intersections in their school community.

Check out S.A.F.E.

  • Select a flag
  • All eyes on the driver
  • Feet forward
  • Every flag returned

Thank you to all of our participants from:

  • NORSEMAN JR. MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • NORTHLEA ELEMENTARY MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • PARK LAWN JR. MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • RED MAPLE PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • SPRUCECOURT PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • TOMKEN ROAD MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • VISTA HILLS PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • WARREN PARK JR. PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • BROOKSIDE PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • DAVID HORNELL JR. PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • DUKE OF CONNAUGHT PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • FAIRBANK PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • GUY BROWN ELEMENTARY
  • JOHN ENGLISH JR. MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • LAKE WILCOX PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • MAZO DE LA ROCHE PUBLIC SCHOOL
  • NELSON MANDELA PARK PUBLIC SCHOOL
 

Together, you have helped to improve pedestrian safety across South-Central Ontario!