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September 03, 2008  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Illinois bus drivers aim to end community violence


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CRESTWOOD, Ill. — Drivers for Alpha School Bus Company Inc., a subsidiary of Cook-Illinois Corp., are taking a stand against neighborhood violence.

On Sept. 6, they will walk through the villages of Crestwood, Midlothian, Blue Island and Robbins with bus attendants, parents, students and school officials to raise awareness about the increasing amount of violence in the communities they serve.

The three-mile “Stop the Violence” walk will begin at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island and end at Alpha School Bus Company in Crestwood.

The event is open to the public, and members of the Robbins Police Department will escort the walkers. Moreover, each parent will receive a “Stopping the Violence Starts at Home” booklet that provides tips and information on how to identify danger signs and prevent violent behavior.

The walk was organized by Alpha school bus driver Cynthia Johnson and her colleagues, who are also members of Drivers, Attendants, Parents, Students and Schools Against Violence (DAPSSAV), a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence in Chicago’s south suburban public schools.

Two years ago, Johnson, co-founder and director of DAPSSAV, was transporting special-needs students in Chicago. At a stoplight, her bus was caught in the crossfire of rival gangs when teenagers jumped out of a car on her left and began shooting at another group of teens in a vehicle to the right of her bus. The incident prompted Johnson to form DAPSSAV and inspired her and her colleagues to coordinate the walk.

“A lot of violence has taken over the Chicago area,” Johnson explained. “We thought that if we organized a walk, we could get the word out to parents that they need to do more constructive things with their children to get them off the streets and let them know that there’s more to life than gangs, drugs and video games.”

Nancy Bruce, manager of Alpha, said the company will provide buses to follow the walkers and to shuttle them back to their vehicles at the end of the walk, which will be followed by a picnic and motivational rally at a local park.

For more information about DAPSSAV or the “Stop the Violence” walk, visit www.dapssav.org.

 


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