“We want to combat this trend and protect our most vulnerable citizens, and our vulnerable citizens are not only our children, it is also our elders and our seniors,” Adams said.
The plan would involve extending the hours and compensation of the borough’s school crossing guards, so after they help students cross the street, they could go to senior-heavy areas in the borough and help the elderly get around safely.
Donald Nesbit, vice president of Local 372 in District 37, said that the initiative is something the city “has to do.”
“We help the seniors who have raised us and the children who we are raising on a daily basis,” Nesbit said. “We gotta make sure that both are safe.”
He also said that helping seniors is something the borough’s 833 crossing guards already do, and so they should be compensated to extend their 20-hour work week and average $15,000 a year salary.
“Our school crossing guards do it already,” he said. “When we see seniors, we cross them already, so why not compensate them for the work that they’re doing?”
Adams announced the initiative before attending a lunch hosted at Borough Hall to honor the borough’s senior citizens and centenarians — individuals who have lived for 100 years or longer.
“I’m afraid to cross Kings Highway, so I know you have to be afraid,” Adams said to a room full of elderly Brooklynites.
Joannah Hickman, a 72-year-old from Brooklyn, and Bernice Hawkins, another Brooklynite who “does not give her age,” said that they think the idea is an excellent one.
“Seniors are slower, and the lights should be a little longer,” Hawkins said.
“The timing is not really conducive for seniors, and when they start walking they’re in a panic,” Hickman added. “You can see the panic on their faces trying to get across the street before it changes. The problem is the motorists are not honoring that the pedestrians have the right of way.”
In addition to the announcement of the crossing guard initiative, Adams thanked the seniors for their contributions to the community and asked for their help in raising the borough’s youth.
“School teaches our children to live and think with their mind, but life teaches them to live with their hearts,” Adams said to the room of seniors. “And you know that more than anyone.
“So I’m asking you to help me teach our young people to live with their heart,” he added. “To help me teach them how to be compassionate, teach them how to be devoted, how to be understanding and how to be better human beings.”