On April 15 crossing guards across Toronto were honoured by Toronto Police for their service to the community at a ceremony at city hall.
For Lois Young, the crossing guard at the corner of Swanwick Avenue and Main Street, the occasion marked a big milestone, as she was awarded for completing 15 years of service at that crosswalk.
Most of us get to know our local crossing guards by name, share greetings and pleasantries, and even learn from them what the weather update is! This, says Lois, is one of the reasons she likes her job immensely.
“I like seeing the people every day, and knowing that I’m helping them.”
One local resident said “It makes a big difference in your walk to school to be met by someone friendly and reassuring across the busy road. I really value the peace of mind it gives me.”
Apart from her crosswalk duties, Lois sees herself as an extra pair of eyes for safety to the kids at the schools around her.
“If I know of anything that might pose a danger or be an obstruction to the school kids, I inform the school,” she said.
Lois admits that you need to be, as she put it, ‘thick-skinned’ to do the job.
“I don’t like it when I see infractions of the Highway Act. I sometimes see people crossing the road between cars, being distracted by their phones while crossing, and drivers who are more interested in speed and personal convenience, and all of that can lead to accidents.”
When she lets them know, sometimes peoples’ responses can be rude and unkind. As for hurtful comments, “I just let ‘em roll-off my back,” she said with a smile.
That same attitude of not complaining and just ‘getting on with it’ is what makes her able to do her job in all weather. Wind, rain, sun or hail, Lois is there.
“I just check the weather report, and layer up,” she said.
At the award ceremony, the crossing guards were thanked for their commitment. TPSB Chair Alok Mukherjee said their role is “indispensable,” and Chief Mark Saunders said “You are the guardian angels of our most precious gift, which is our children.”
The commemorative pin awarded to Lois Young for 15 years’ service is her third, after pins for five and 10 years’ service. One quick photo for us and it was back into the shadow-box she keeps of the 30-plus commemorative pins she’s earned over years of work in the community, including with Meals on Wheels.
“It’s a way for me to be able to look back on what I’ve done in my life – and to look forward too!”
Alia Dunn is a student at Kimberley Public School. She reported and wrote this story with help from her mom Nadia Dunn.