PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Perrysburg's Toth Elementary just got a big boost to help maintain and grow the school's safety program.
The program is 100% volunteer-based and students in third and fourth grade take time out of their school day to make sure their fellow classmates get safely in and out of school each day.
"We have a lot of kids that ride their bikes or walk. And we have some wonderful third and fourth graders that help assist those kids to get across the street safely and make sure that they're looking both ways," said Toth's safety program coordinator, Jason Koval.
Toth Elementary's safety patrol program has been in place for more than a decade. The school is now one of 10 in the nation, and one of only two in Ohio, to be awarded a $500 grant from AAA to use toward the program.
"We take that much pride in our school safety patrol program and believe it's that important. The school is able to use the check to enhance or improve their program, whether it's buying more equipment or providing more training for the students," said Kara Hitchens, senior specialist at AAA.
Koval said the school has more than 40 safety patrol students this year, which is about double what they're used to. He says the grant will definitely help expand the program.
"A lot of the costs typically, in a year, go to our vests and our signs and all that sort of stuff. We're looking for ways to go way above and beyond that where maybe we have a sign that's electronic or different things, is my goal. I don't know what we'll end up doing specifically," Koval said.
Both Hitchens and Koval say the students in the program are learning life and leadership skills by teaching their peers about traffic safety and traffic rules.
"We train those students to teach the other students and just keep an eye on them, particularly the younger kids, about traffic safety and staying safe as they're coming to and from school," Hitchens said.
"All of those kids are leaders throughout the building and kids look up to them. To have that safety patrol vest on, those kids think that is like the superhero costume. They just love and want those same things and skills those kids possess," Koval said.
Before finalizing where the money will be used, he said the kids will be asked to give their ideas on what they think the program needs.