Putting children’s safety first

2018-04-10 06:02
Mayco member JP Smith, Warda Cay and MEC Dan Plato.

Mayco member JP Smith, Warda Cay and MEC Dan Plato.

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“I don’t do meetings, I do the work.”

This is the attitude that helped a local walking bus get recognised at a recent awards ceremony honouring neighbourhood watch volunteers in the city.

“We do this 24/7, covering six schools in the Eastridge, Beacon Valley and Tafelsig sectors, with 15 members at each school covering all the surrounding streets. Sometimes we walk with blisters on our feet but we do it,” says Warda Cay, Eastridge Walking Bus chairperson.

Visibility and safety remain the key focus for the 64-man strong volunteer group who make it their goal to ensure children are kept in school and stay away from truant behaviour­.

“The gangsters are not robbing our children anymore because they know we are on the streets. There are still the stubborn ones but it has decreased,” she says.

Cay accepted the award at the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Awards held at the end of last month.

Cay received the bronze award for service excellence for her role in development and training as part of the walking bus.

The award recognises the development of a wide range of skills in comprehensive community safety and support.

The walking bus is fully accredited with the Department of Community Safety (Docs).

“I was surprised. I did not expect it at all. They explained that it was not just for the walking bus but also about people working in the community. We are part of the neighbourhood and we also watch [out for things and crime]. Whether we watch the gangsters or the youth or the community, we are contributing to the safety of the community,” she says.

“I told my members that this is a token of their appreciation and that we should use it as a motivation moving forward.”

The walking bus was launched two years ago and they pride themselves on “doing things differently” with their come-and-play initiative, soup kitchens, training, and going the extra mile for their passion, the children. “As an activist in the community for the past 17 years, aside from the walking bus, I would say this is deserved. We were working long before we put on walking bus jackets. This is for us,” says Cay.

Their duty reaches far beyond the morning and afternoon school rush, with members often assisting in the event of shootings or tensions, specifically ensuring the safety of the children.

“We live in this community. We need to do something,” she says.

The walking bus volunteers remain active with several events, including assisting at the Open Streets, It’s Time, Fifa World Cup Trophy Tour and other events.

Other projects include adopt-a-cop which looks to enlist the help of officers who are willing to go the extra mile and assist the walking bus with patrols.

For her efforts and as part of the prize, Cay received a two-way radio, torch and other Docs-branded items to be used for the walking bus.

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