NBC10.com - Daralene Jones
Several businesses involved in a city-wide school safety initiative say they had no idea they were part of the program.
Mansion Auto Shop on 30th and Dauphin Streets is one of four businesses listed as a “safe haven” for Blaine & Ethel Allen School in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city. It’s all part of the city’s “Walk Safe PHL Program” which allows volunteers and businesses across the city to look after children walking home from school.
The children are told to walk a specific “safety route” and in the event of a problem, are told to walk inside one of the businesses designated as a safety area. There’s only one problem however. Greg Blocker, the owner of Mansion Auto Shop, had no idea his business was part of the program.
“I’ve never seen it[[the list]],” Blocker said. “Nobody ever came to me about that.”
Employees at Caroline Market on 30th and Ridge Avenue, another listed safe haven, also told NBC10 they had no idea their business was on the list. Some businesses listed in the program don’t even have signs outside alerting children that they are a safe haven. Finally, one volunteer who was stationed along one of the safety routes admitted to not having any training.
NBC10 reached out to Anthony Murphy, the director of the Walk Safe program at Ethel Allen. Murphy claimed training is still ongoing. As for the business owner and employees who didn’t know they were part of the program, Murphy claimed some interns were in charge of connecting with them over the summer.
“We currently have to go back, get those businesses, check those businesses off and explain to them what a safe haven is,” Murphy said.
The Walk Safe Program features 189 volunteers and safe routes for 26 schools. You can view the full list of schools, safety routes and safe haven businesses here.