Fellow Organizes Parents and Children for After-School Safety

By Jenny Msall (Current Organizing Fellow) 

When I last wrote about the work I had been doing with parents as the new School and Community Organizer in Lower Roxbury,  we were in the process of developing short term and long term solutions to bullying issues on the bus between the Edison K8 school and Lower Roxbury. Since then, so much has happened!

Per the suggestion of a parent, we developed a petition that identified short term and long term solutions to the bullying, including getting a bus attendant on the school bus, identifying an Edison staff person for parents to file incident and bullying reports to, and leading peace building workshops on the bus.

After getting 25 signatures from parents at the three different bus stops in Lower Roxbury, the Edison school principal connected us to Boston Public School’s Director of Transportation. On a Saturday morning in late November, three parents and I met with Carl Allen to present the petition. He said we made a strong case for needing another adult on the school bus, and approved funding within BPS Transportation to hire a bus attendant.

As the school principal moved forward with the hiring process, I began to develop peace building workshops for the school bus, as an interim strategy to improve bus conditions until an attendant is on board. Last week, I rolled out these workshops. While the logisticsof leading workshops on a moving school bus of 50 K-8 students posed a number of challenges, we were able to cover some important content. On the first day, we played some community building games and discussed what kinds of behavior belong on a peaceful bus, versus what behaviors don’t belong on the bus. On the second day, we played a game that demonstrated what it means to be a bystander to bullying. The workshops felt like a good first step at getting students to think about their behavior on the bus.

And perhaps more importantly, riding the school bus to give the workshops gave me a much better sense of the issues that our students and bus drivers face on the school bus, and this new perspective will be incredibly useful as I move forward with parents and BPS administrators to keep working towards our goal of ensuring that all students have a safe way of getting to school each day.

Originally posted at ssypbready.wordpress.com on December 28, 2012

Jenny Msall is the Community and Family Organizer for St Stephen’s Episcopal Parish’s Youth Programs in Boston’s South End and Roxbury.

 

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