By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald

Bringing attention to pedestrian safety for children who walk to school and drivers who commute through school zones, a group of nursing students reached out Thursday to Timber Ridge Elementary School.

Tucked away in a south Killeen neighborhood, the school was as good as any to model the need for driver diligence and pedestrian attentiveness to keep everyone safe.

Four University of Mary Hardin-Baylor nursing students joined the Safe Kids Mid-Texas Coalition to present the safety message at Timber Ridge.

In addition, Susan Burchfield, coordinator of Safe Kids, said a letter to parents encouraged slowing down, staying off cellphones and staying alert while traveling through school zones.

The nursing students used role play, as well as large street signs, music and a safe kids chant to reinforce the basics of pedestrian safety.

They urged students to always stop, look both ways and listen before walking across the street. Don’t run or dance across the street, said nursing student Paige Getz, who led the teaching during the presentation to fifth-graders.

Using a dropped ball and traffic cones, the college students showed how to stop and pay attention and avoid distraction to stay safe.

The nursing students also urged children to wear bright colors or reflective items to stay safe walking at night.

After modeling the safe behavior and allowing student volunteers to follow suit, the whole group of seven fifth-grade classes went outside and practiced walking on the crosswalks.

UMHB student Ashly Knight played the role of crossing guard, holding a stop sign in front of imaginary traffic to let students pass.

The presentation also touched on the importance of avoiding strangers on the street and finding a trusted adult if help is needed to safely navigate a busy intersection.

“The senior nursing students developed it to bring the safety message to this school,” said Burchfield. “We’re also reminding parents to be safe drivers, especially in school zones.”

She pointed out that children act impulsively at times so adults must be responsible to keep them safe.

The school project served as a capstone for the UMHB Community Public Health Nursing course for students in their final semester of nursing school.

The project centered on primary prevention, educating the student community to help prevent injury, Getz said.

“With Halloween, kids can get wrapped up in the fun, so it’s a good time to talk about safety and wearing the right clothes,” said nursing student Jessica McMahon.

UMHB nursing students Getz, McMahon, Leslie Sheffield and Jennifer Valdez worked on the project.

A dozen or so other nursing students volunteered to assist with the presentations.