Confidence. Commitment. Respect.
They are the traits of leadership that must be learned somewhere. For millions of kids—and many more yet to come—that somewhere is the AAA School Safety Patrol program, where student volunteers help their classmates stay safe.
Throughout its 100-year history, Safety Patrol has reduced injuries and fatalities among children across the United States. Just as important, it has shaped students who would go on to become leaders—there are presidents, Olympic medalists, astronauts and U.S. Supreme Court justices among Safety Patrol alumni. And many more have kept the spirit of the AAA School Safety Patrol program with them throughout their lives.
AAA School Safety Patrol: Through the Years
Charles M. Hayes, then president of the Chicago Motor Club, is credited with building the infrastructure and providing the resources so other AAA clubs across the U.S. could protect school-aged children walking to and from school. Hayes witnessed several children at a school crossing get killed by a speeding car. He pledged to help prevent such tragedies from happening again.
Three national organizations—AAA, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, and the National Safety Council—collaborated on Standard Rules for the Operation of School Boy Patrols. These guidelines were updated over the years to become the operating standards for AAA School Safety Patrols.
The Lifesaving Award Medal—the highest recognition bestowed on patrollers—is established. More than 430 patrollers have since received this award for saving the life of a person who was in imminent danger.
Celebrating its centennial, the AAA School Safety Patrol Program includes more 679,000 patrollers in 35,000 schools nationwide.
*The full version of this story was featured in the March/April 2021 issue of AAALiving Magazine