BROOKHAVEN, Ga. -- Officer Maria Jones worried that children in her area didn’t know the rules of street safety. Luckily, her station has created a way to teach kids how to stay safe in an interactive and educational way, through a coloring book.
The station’s mascot, Brookhaven Barry, is the star of the police station’s custom-made book, which teaches youth how to properly cross the street.
“It’s a simple coloring book, something easy for kids to read and understand, and something they can remember and relate to.”
Jones looks for opportunities to pass out these books whenever she can. During a quick stop at a gas station, she came across a mother with her children and invited them to take a book. A customer pumping gas took a photo of the interaction, and it has since gained attention online.
“I enjoy working with kids. I think giving them positive reinforcement at a young age and having a positive relationship with them in our community, it builds and builds to greater things.”
Jones has no children of her own, but she feels a reasonability for educating youth on how to be safe in the community as pedestrians. She hopes children will remind their parents of these safety rules as they grow up.
Making a lasting impact is a goal Jones strives towards every day. She recalls running into a young man who had remembered her from his childhood. Jones had taught him the importance of using a crosswalk.
“Stuff like that really warms my heart as a person, to have a positive influence on people in our community because we want them to do well.”
According to Jones, kids are excited and grateful for the gift. Parents appreciate the gesture, as well.
“Even though it’s brief, giving them life lessons, it goes a long way.”
Jones told us people commonly tell her they don’t know what’s classified as a street violation. As cities become more pedestrian-friendly, Jones believes it is imperative to teach and practice safety guidelines.
Brookhaven officers also coordinate with schools to hold presentations on pedestrian safety throughout the year.
Jones is proud of her station’s educational impact and plans to continue distributing the books in her area.