Helping children cross since 1978

Sarah Luke

RAIN, hail or shine, for the past 40 years Jenny Young has donned her high-vis coat and hat and dutifully waited for her students between the red and white posts.

Whistle and stop sign in hand, she has helped two generations of students, their parents and the occasional teacher cross the road, with a smile, a chat and the occasional hug.

Jenny began her role after watching a friend help her own daughter, Helen, cross the road each morning for school, and it’s been her love ever since.

After 10 years of service, Jenny was moved to her current Macalister St post.

At 40 years on the job, she is now the second longest serving school crossing supervisor in the state.

At the recent School Crossings Victoria Awards, Jenny was nominated for the supervisor of the year, title which, according to her, is the equivalent of “lollipop or the year, or lollipop person, whichever you want to call it”.

With more than 195 nominees, including four from the Wellington Shire, competition was tough.

Despite not taking top title, it’s clear Jenny embodies the values of the winner — enthusiastic, friendly and ever so protective.

Jenny is known for her tough but fair approach to staying behind the yellow line until it’s safe to cross, but is really a big softy at heart.

“Some of the mums get a cuddle in the morning or afternoon if they’ve had a bad day,” she said.

She credits a mutual love between her, the children and their parents for her longevity in the job, even citing one instance where parents rushed to help after she was threatened by a rogue pedestrian.

“Some of my students are now parents — makes one feel really old,” she laughed.

“I just love doing it; I love the kids.”

After a quick interview on Friday, she apologised, and rushed off to her second job — a volunteer post at the Kilmany op shop in Sale — a role she’s also held for 30 years.

Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley congratulated Jenny on her milestone, acknowledging her contribution to community safety and her strong rapport with parents and students.

“She’s always positive, cheerful and committed to her role,” she said.

“She’s a real giver to our community.”

First introduced in Victoria sometime after World War 2, school crossings were placed around schools on roads that pedestrians frequently crossed at peak school times, but were unsupervised.

In 1973, a spate of serious accidents at flagged crossings, including two double fatalities that involved children, emphasised the need for supervisors on crossings.

In 1974, Victoria’s then-premier Rupert Hamer went on a fact finding mission to Britain to study school crossings, after which the government set a budget of $1 million per year to employ supervisors to manage the flagged crossings.

Eventually, crossing supervisors were employed by the municipalities in which the crossings were located.

Crossing supervisors have been protecting crossings and the community ever since.

There have been no deaths since the supervisor program was implemented, assisted by reduced speed limits in school zones.