You would think the pain would be too much for Gwen Ward, but she still keeps going back to the school just two blocks away from the intersection where her 15-year-old daughter, Christina Morris-Ward, was stuck by a car and killed.
It happened 10 months ago on Halloween morning. Outgoing and opinionated, Christina was a typical teenager in all the right ways. Most of the time she got a ride to school with her mom, but Gwen got off to an early start that morning, so Christina walked to Seneca Valley High School. Dressed in dark clothes and wearing headphones, Christina was glancing down at her phone as she crossed the street just blocks away from her school. But before she got to the other side of the intersection, an oncoming car hit her.
By the time Gwen arrived at the hospital, it was too late, and Gwen was left trying to make sense of this tragedy and all the things that could have been done to prevent it. The loss still haunts Gwen. But regardless of the pain, she keeps going back to the school. That's where the kids are, so that's where she needs to be to raise awareness and educate other students about the dangers of distracted walking. She says it's therapeutic even if it doesn't completely take away the pain.
She works with the school, government officials, the police department and many of Christina's friends. Together, they talk to teens and kids of all ages about how to walk safely to school. They distribute reflectors for kids to wear when it gets dark and urge them to put down their devices when crossing the street. Gwen continues to tell her story as a way to keep Christina's legacy alive -- doing everything she can to make sure this tragedy doesn't happen to anyone else.
Unfortunately, it's been happening too often lately and we're moving in the wrong direction.
According to a study by my organization, one in five high school students and one in eight middle school students cross the street while distracted and it can lead to deadly results. Teens now account for half of all pedestrian deaths among children 19 and under.
The good news is the solution isn't complicated even if implementing it is. Mobile devices are part of everyday life, which can provide positive benefits in many ways. But we all need to work together to find a way to encourage teens and everyone to put these devices down when they're crossing the street.
We came up with one idea. It's called the Moment of Silence campaign. It's easy to participate: In memory of Christina and the thousands of other teens who have been injured or killed while crossing the street, simply commit to putting your device down and paying attention when crossing the street.
Watch this video to learn more.
Safe Kids Worldwide and FedEx are launching a national effort calling on parents and teens to put devices down and keep heads up when crossing the street, to reverse the dangerous trend of pedestrian injuries caused by distraction. Learn more about the issue and join the Moment of Silence campaign at safekids.org.