Courtesy of Nichole Hollis
Some students at Grady are not only meeting school deadlines in the heat of the pandemic but going above and beyond in their extracurriculars.
Students in the school’s pedestrian safety club, Atlanta Student’s Advocating for Pedestrians (ASAP), are hard at work pushing out new initiatives. Whether these students are working with Atlanta safety programs, planning new crosswalks or promoting public transportation, their efforts span farther than the classroom.
Sophomore Andre Grossberg has only been with the club for a year but already has been an instrumental member of this fast-paced team.
“I have drawn a video for bike safety, done community service to get bikes to low-income youth,” Grossberg said. “[I] am currently working on tactical urbanism, low-cost projects such as creating sidewalks to help improve pedestrian safety.”
The beginning of first semester marked the beginning of a new system within the club. Members have decided to split themselves up into committees to address certain issues.
Sophomore Andre Grossberg has only been with the club for a year but likes the new institution of committees.
“These committees are fairly new;however, we are designing it so that … we can do more projects and people can focus on things that they are more interested in,” Grossberg said.“This also creates engagement for everyone so no one is left with nothing to do.”
The committees each have a specific function and cater to students’ different interests.
There are currently three different committees: the Community and Social Services committee, the Youth Empowerment in Equitable Transportation and the Low Income Public Safety Initiative committee.
The Community and Social Services Committee creates smaller projects based on needs of nearby community members. The second committee focuses on educating Atlanta youth on safe transportation options. Finally, the Low Income Public Safety Initiative works with schools and organizations that focus on building safe transportation infrastructure for low-income areas. Each group does a very specific job that is part of a greater whole.
These divisions are allowing for new projects to be fast-tracked. Members like junior Francesca Ruhe are already working on something that is active in February.
“Right now, we’re partnering with Georgia Commute Schools to promote the ‘Love My Bus’ initiative, which aims to promote bus ridership and safer transportation among partner schools,” Ruhe said.
Due to the Covid pandemic, many students are not returning to the classroom, but this event hopes to cater to all students, regardless of where they are learning. Schools can register for a virtual, in-person or hybrid event for their students.
“The virtual event is an event where schools can present art songs or other promotional material that they come up with to promote bus ridership,” Grossberg said. “The in-person one is similar to a ‘Walk to School Day,’ where people are encouraged to ride their bus to school and, upon arrival, they can receive fun gifts. Then, there is a hybrid [option] where schools can opt to do both.”
ASAP members have been putting in extra hours to make the partnership project a success. Their goal is to represent the club and fulfill its intended purpose: encouraging safety throughout the Atlanta-Grady community.
Even after February, the club’s members still have things planned out
Junior Nora Ball, the co-founder of the club, has been working since before the coronavirus pandemic to get the wheels of a new initiative moving.
“The ‘Spring Back On Your Bike” project is something that I am more involved in,” Ball said, “We’re partnering with the National Youth Bike Council, which ASAP is a part of.”
This idea was developed after the recent bike shortage. Because of Covid, as people were commuting to work less and as schedules became more flexible, more individuals used bikes as a way to get around and stay active. Ball saidASAP is targeting this spring’s program towards students who already own bikes.
“We are trying to specifically get the youth to stay on their bikes,” Ball said. “And, to do that, we want to make sure that little problems don’t mean that you give up your bike.”
It may not be obvious at first as to how high schoolers could help with this problem. However, students like Ball have become quite resourceful and aren’t afraid to ask for help from their community.
“For instance, maybe your brakes get misaligned,” Ball said.“Now, what we are doing is [encouraging] that you can go to a partnered bike shop and get those brakes realigned.”
ASAP has already gotten local bike shops to allocate funds toward “tune-up tickets.” Students who couldn’t otherwise afford to get repairs done on their bike can use these tickets for tune-ups at shops like Atlanta Pro Bikes.
As spring draws close, ASAP plans more projects to benefit the community.
“I get to work with a bunch of cool and smart people and organizations to help make Atlanta a better place to live,” Grossberg said.