VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. (March 2, 2021)—AAA is proud to celebrate its School Safety Patrol program’s centennial anniversary. For 100 years, Patrollers around the world have provided school-aged children an extra sense of safety and security when going to and from school.
“AAA’s School Safety Patrol program is the world’s largest school-based safety program. We could not be prouder of the thousands of young men and women annually who dedicate their time before and after school each day to ensure the safety of their classmates,” said AAA President and CEO, and former Patroller, Marshall Doney. “This community program teaches safety and leadership skills to ensure our youngest generations are making smart decisions. I can attest first hand. The important pedestrian and traffic safety measures I learned as a Patroller had a profound and lasting impact on my career.”
Created to make schoolchildren safer while walking to school, the program has grown-up and matured with the times while remaining steadfast to its mission to provide a safer environment and leadership opportunities for millions of schoolchildren. Started as a boys-only initiative when horses and buggies were still a transportation mode, the program has evolved to include girls. The training that Patrollers receive instills safety sense beyond street crossings, including bus and car drop-offs, monitoring hallway congestion, and teaching Patrollers invaluable leadership skills. The famous Patroller belt has seen change, too, going from white to neon orange to today’s fluorescent green called ‘Lectric Lime.
“Safety Patrollers help students to stay safe during the school year by leading and guiding them with the best traffic safety practices that they learn from the program. These students save lives by helping to direct children, not traffic.” said Katharine Beachboard, safety advisor for AAA Tidewater Virginia.
AAA Tidewater Virginia will be hosting the 100th Anniversary Celebration Event virtually. This event will highlight some of the local stories in the Tidewater area, showing the impact the program has had in the community. On April 20th from 3:30pm to 4pm, the special event will be held on a virtual platform. Space is limited. For those interested please email email@example.com .
For some students, becoming a Patroller is inspired by wanting to help others and the privilege to wear the ‘Lectric Lime belt and badge proudly. For others, it is also a tradition passed on from generation to generation, like 14-year-old Kayo Cook from Richmond, Virginia, whose uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather all proudly served as Patrollers.
“It taught me how to be a leader,” Cook said. “It’s always good to be able to help others.”
The belt may come off after fifth grade, but the leadership values and safety awareness have inspired many to pursue admirable careers, including the sitting president.
Other notable Patrollers include Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, astronauts, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and authors, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney. Many Patrollers now serve as educators, executives, and community leaders. Some, like Karen Guilbeault, enter law enforcement. Guilbeault rose to become the first female captain in the Cranston, R.I., police department and their first to graduate from the FBI’s National Academy in Virginia.
“Being a patroller helped me get involved in community service and gave me a sense of belonging and instilled self-confidence,” said Guilbeault. “It opened so many doors for me and formed my interest in going into law enforcement.”
The 2020–21 school year, different as it may be, boasts 679,000 Patrollers in 35,000 schools in the United States. AAA Tidewater leads as many as 160 schools and 3,500 Patrollers across the region from public and private schools in Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore, the Northern Neck and as far away as Greensville. While many of these schools are not holding in-person classes at this time, these schools have been active in the program for many years and students will return to their patrolling duties as the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Since 1920, AAA provides various equipment and education materials to Patrollers, including reflective belts, patrol badges and training resources. To learn how to bring the AAA School Safety Patrol to your school, email SchoolSafetyPatrol@national.aaa.com.
As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 350,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia.