NEWS August 15th, 2017

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Kids team up to calm traffic at North Leaside intersection

Hanna and Glenvale policed by local youth after whistle game commands attention

PHOTO COURTESY JANIS FERTUCK THE GANG'S ALL HERE: Kids in a North Leaside neighbourhood have taken it upon themselves to ensure impatient drivers obey the rules of the road.

It all started with the simple blow of a whistle at a car failing to stop at the intersection of Hanna Road and Glenvale Boulevard.

Mya Gilland, while in the midst of a game with seven other neighbourhood children, caught the attention of a driver who was rolling through the stop sign.

That’s the story Madelyn Sergnese, daughter of real estate broker, Charlene Kalia, recounted when sharing the origins of North Leaside’s traffic officers.

“We were going to each other’s houses to play after school and we have to cross the street to get there,” Sergnese said. “We weren’t very safe when we were crossing.”

With the help of Gilland and her sister Makenzie, as well as Aidan, James, Olivia Laham and Kaitlyn Towle, decided to curb impatient drivers.

Kalia said she couldn’t be more proud of the kids.

“They would give high fives or thumbs up to drivers that would stop, and they would blow the whistle at those who didn’t stop,” Kalia said. “What they realized very quickly is they had the ability to make an impact on that corner – to increase safety and to make drivers aware it’s a very family-oriented neighbourhood.”

Then came the bright blue shirts with “We Believe in Full Stops” written on them with the familiar octagon on them, as well as lemonade stands to help fundraise for a stop light.

Though the options of a light or camera at the T-intersection are not in the books, Ward 26 councillor Jon Burnside lauded the kids for their passion and sense of community in a phone call from California.

“I think anytime that the community gets involved, it’s helpful. That’s where change occurs,” Burnside told the Streeter. “One, it’s the education process. But two, it doesn’t hurt to show how passionate the community is about this.”

That awareness, he posited, will be a great illustration for new 53 Division superintendent Scott Baptist in determining how traffic laws are enforced.

Still, Kalia admitted the death of Georgia Walsh three years ago at the intersection of McRae and Millwood is still fresh in Leasiders minds and with the added development along Eglinton, many keep an eye on the roads.

Sergnese and her friends will keep up their work though, whistles at the ready.