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Mobility is learned as early as nursery school

A new pedestrian crossing has been designed on the opposite side of the St. Paulus school entrance, in Uccle. It is indicated by two green plastic men equipped with red flags. This is one of the measures taken by Karla Geldof, the prevention counsellor of this establishment, and in four other Dutch-speaking nursery and primary schools in Brussels.

A prevention counsellor in a school environment must ensure overall safety : heating, smoke detectors for example but also burn-outs. “Should a problem arise, I need to report it to the management”, explains Karla Geldof.

And, as if that weren’t enough, she also feels that it is her mission to take safety outside the school into account. “I try to make parents, children and teachers more aware of moving possibilities around the city. Most are unfamiliar with the city and are therefore afraid to ride a bike.”, she says.

She proposes different actions to each school. At St. Paulus, the theme was day and night. A way to tackle the question of visibility with the help of the two fluorescent men for example. At the St. Augustinus school in Forest, the year was dedicated to the bicycle. This year's high point was the Friday of Mobility Week. On that day, the street in front of the school was closed to traffic in order to make way for the children. On the program: games, courses for velocipedes, bicycles and kick scooters, dances…

Kids also had the opportunity to test monocycles and other unusual bikes. Finally, there was a BMX show (“to show children that cycling can be enjoyable”, underlines Karla Geldof). Next year, a bike rank will be set both for Dutch-speaking and French-speaking pupils.

Licences and bike excursions

Here, at St. Paulus, we can see bicycles, kick scooters and velocipedes. “We have received a few bikes and velocipedes from Brussels Mobility. Kids, as from an early age, are taking tests to confirm their abilities”, states the counsellor.

Increasingly, the bicycle also occupies a prominent place in excursions. Indeed, some pupils went to the Netherlands for three days and, over there, every journey went on by bike. Finally, amongst the staff, Karla observes an evolution : “An increasing number of young teachers are combining train and bicycle. It is however complicated to park bikes. Here, the playground is too small to build a space to park bikes. We are looking for a solution.”

Karla has been a prevention counsellor for seven years now. Before that, she was a primary teacher until health reasons prevented her to carry on with her job. She was advised to redirect her career as a prevention counsellor. She followed some training courses then got off and never regretted her new step : “I continuously learn new things”, she declares.

An article from Violaine Jadoul

Photos by Gilles Bolland