Safety before and after school was a crucial issue in the area surrounding Irving Middle School in Maywood. The Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership held listening sessions with young students and parents where they shared that there was constant loitering, suspicious vans circling the school, and fights that were causing the children to feel afraid.
After the listening sessions, CSPL gathered the parents to take action on it. They brought parents together again to share, strategize, and conduct a power analysis and community mapping in order to find a solution. Parents learned to hold strategic meetings with governing officials and the local police chiefs and to collaborate with the school district leadership to get the funding necessary to launch this community driven project.
After several gatherings and meetings with additional stakeholders, Smart Routes to School was created and launched in September 2019. Within a few months, the positive impact of the program was already evident. Parents and children reported having fights deescalated, loitering reduced, and that the program helped apprehend a suspicious van driver who was soliciting a young girl.
The pandemic created a pause in the program but parents started pushing for the program to be funded again in August of 2021. Parents are working to reimagine the program to address some of the post-pandemic changes and needs that the parents and children share. CSPL looks forward to helping drive community-driven safety solutions that allow our children to thrive.
Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership