As Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) students head back to classrooms this week, staff throughout the district will emphasize to students the importance of being aware of their surroundings while traveling to school
The Take Care, Be Aware initiative, now in its second year, provides in-class lessons about how to stay safe while traveling to and from school, additional safety equipment for schools, and updated safety training for school staff.
“Students must develop a heightened sense of situational awareness, enabling them to identify potential risks and hazards on their routes proactively,” said Kathy Langdon, the district’s physical education and health coordinator. She leads a districtwide team to train staff about the initiative.
“By encouraging students to be mindful of their surroundings, the program instills a sense of responsibility for their safety and that of others,” Langdon said. “Students learn to pay attention to traffic signals, pedestrian crossings, and potential obstacles, fostering a proactive approach to road safety. Moreover, being aware of their surroundings also helps students respond to unforeseen situations, such as the sudden appearance of a moving vehicle or an unexpected change in traffic patterns.”
Inside the school, staff will start the year with a 10- to 15-minute lesson with all grade levels about traffic safety. Students in grades 2–6 also learned about bike safety. Students will view videos on YouTube, and then have class discussions about the importance of being aware of their surroundings.
The “Take Care, Be Aware” program highlights the importance of using all senses while commuting, such as listening to oncoming vehicles and observing traffic flow. This heightened awareness not only enhances their safety during their journey to school but also carries over to other aspects of their lives, promoting a sense of vigilance and mindfulness, Langdon said.
Being aware of their surroundings fosters a sense of community responsibility. Students become more attentive to the safety of their peers, encouraging them to look out for one another while traveling in groups or at shared pedestrian crossings.
Langdon said this sense of collective vigilance strengthens the school community’s bond and promotes a culture of safety and support.