The Grassy Park and Surrounds Scholar Association celebrated its first anniversary at Fairview Primary School on Thursday morning. The community-based learners transport organisation says after a year of success they plan to make more people in the community aware of what they are currently doing to keep children safe. The group, which launched last year, aims to deliver the safest transport for schoolchildren in communities across the city and has transported over 1000 learners to date. “Today I stand here, along with the many challenges we were faced as a team, and can proudly say we made it this far. We started this group when 18 local drivers came together and have grown in numbers ever since. There was and is still hurdles that we are not scared to challenge, but what I can say is that this group grows from strength to strength each and every day,” says organisation chairperson Regan Hope. “We are well branched and transport children all over the city with our experienced and trained drivers, and offer our professional services to all communities, including Grassy Park, Mitchell’s Plain, Bellville, Strand and Kraaifontein.”Drivers working under the organisation’s banner are given training in first aid at Child Safe SA, and undergo regular eye testing. “It is very important that we focus on the safety of the children while transporting them from home to school, and want to give the parents peace of mind and make sure the children are at school on time. Our drivers are prepared for any emergency, travelling with the necessary equipment to see to kids. We also have trackers in all vehicles which monitor the speed while transporting kids to their daily destinations,” he explains.Hope says the biggest challenge for drivers is getting permits for the vans they use. The drivers have been battling to get permits for a long time due to the year model of the vehicles, with only some vans in possession of permits. “I can assure you that all these vehicles are in a very good condition and are very safe to transport kids in. All we want is permits for these vans in order to make this a success. If our vans are impounded today, what will happen to our drivers and 1000 children?” he adds.Organisation secretary Vicky Jones says the team has approached local government by introducing themselves. “The government does not recognise us and says we are not a taxi association. They are correct, we are not, but we are a scholar service. We do door to door, providing personal and safety service,” she says. “Our vehicles have all the requirements that government wants. We want them to recognise and listen to us. If the provincial government can’t help us in bringing this type of transport and safety to communities, then we will try the national minister of transport. They need to keep in mind that we are not here for advertising but for the safety of children.” Seeing the need to unite, the organisation’s executive members are calling on other drivers to join them with the aim of forming a stronger support structure in communities across the city. V For more information on the Grassy Park and Surrounds Scholar Association, call Regan Hope on 082 437 6900.