Yellow angels


Employees at KreAktiv für Ruhrort are also on duty as school crossing patrol officers. Elena Brenk went along to see how they safely guided pupils of Ruhrort primary school across the road.

A glance at the clock shows it is now shortly after 7 a.m. Bodo Adam hastily takes one last gulp of coffee. “Time to go,” he says, hurriedly rising from the table. Adam stops again in the foyer of the parish hall to pull on his jacket, the reflectors gleaming in the light. Adam looks at the clock again. “We have to be at the school before the first children arrive,” he explains, leaving the parish hall with his colleague Freimuth Stüber.

Safely through the darkness

The two KreAktiv employees stride towards Ruhrort primary school where they will be on duty today as school crossing patrol officers. Since November last year, the team at Ruhrort citizens’ initiative KreAktiv has been helping school children safely cross König-Friedrich-Wilhelm-Strasse – every morning and in alternating teams of two. The idea for this came from Dirk Peters. The head of Ruhrort primary school was desperately searching for a replacement after the city was stripped of its long-standing school crossing patrol officers shortly before the dark winter months set in. “Even though the road passing by the school is traffic-calmed, many drivers don’t stick to the speed limit,” explains Peters. This can be extremely dangerous, particularly in the winter, as it can be difficult to see the children. For example, a few weeks ago, a former pupil was hit by a car and suffered minor injuries on Eisenbahnstrasse, which isn’t far from the primary school. “It is without doubt thanks to the school crossing patrol officers that similar accidents have never occurred at our school,” says Peters. Stüber and Adam work in close cooperation with the police when performing their morning traffic duties. “If we see that drivers here are driving too fast, we report it to the police.” This is because the school crossing patrol officers themselves are not allowed to reprimand speeding drivers, even though they often find it difficult not to.

Making their presence known

Meanwhile, Adam and Stüber have arrived at the primary school. “Everyone has their own fixed position here,” says Adam. While the former cemetery gardener takes up his position on Fürst-Bismarck-Strasse directly opposite the schoolyard, Stüber stands on König-Friedrich-Wilhelm-Strasse. Right on time, the first pupil shows up. The approximately 10-year-old boy looks at the two officers and stops at the crossing. Even though there isn’t a car in sight, he first looks left and then right before crossing the road – a typical textbook approach. However, the situation at the school doesn’t stay this calm for long. The rush sets in at 7:45 a.m. Approximately 200 school children now flood from all directions and head towards the primary school – either alone or with their parents. With rush-hour traffic starting to pick up, more and more cars drive past the school. This means that Adam and Stüber need to keep their wits about them at all times. As one driver – unnoticed by a group of children – shifts into reverse outside the school, Adam is on hand straightaway. He intercepts the children and does not let them cross the road until the car has turned around. “Seemingly harmless situations like this can change course quickly,” explains Stüber. Since this isn’t only the case during winter, Peters has now extended the contract with the employees at KreAktiv für Ruhrort for the entire year.

More about KreAktiv

KreAktiv für Ruhrort is a joint project of the city sport association Stadtsportbund Duisburg, the Jobcenter Duisburg and Haniel, with the aim of revitalising the urban district. The project was officially launched in spring 2012.

Since then, the ten citizen workers with headquarters in the Ruhrort parish hall have been maintaining the recently opened Ruhrort bookcase, handing out flyers and brochures for sport and leisure offers in shops and patrolling through Ruhrort in order to pass on information of any disturbances or offences to the authorities. The KreAktiv team’s key tasks include regularly preparing and holding events – organised by Kreativkreis Ruhrort – in the parish hall.