Twice a day you can see them peeking out of their windows, sitting on their porches or out watering their lawns – an entire community watching out for its children.
That is the heart of Kid Watch, a USC program that mobilizes volunteers to provide safe passage for more than 9,000 children as they walk to and from school.
Nearly 1,000 residents made a commitment to keep their eyes on the street and watch over their community.
The Kid Watch volunteers, vetted by the university and the police department, are more than just passive onlookers. Their homes – displaying the Kid Watch logo in black and yellow – are safe havens where children can go.
Twice a year, all volunteers, who have been screened by the L.A. Police Department, are trained by the USC Department of Public Safety. They learn about their roles and responsibilities, along with topics such as fire safety, child car-seat safety, and safe use of public transportation, including the Metro Rail system.
“Besides being a form of protection for their children, Kid Watch provides parents with a connection to their schools and communities, and opportunities to build their networks,” said Bertrand Perdomo-Ucles, program coordinator. “The goal is to make our community more prepared for all types of safety issues. I also want to help the volunteers who are helping us, by giving them access to university resources they can use to develop new skills and be empowered in return for their volunteer service.”
When the program was created in 1996, there were 25 members. It has since become a model for schools from Sacramento to Canada to New Zealand.
Kid Watch Profile
Since 1996, Lou Edwards has watched countless children from his front porch almost every weekday morning and afternoon as they go to and from school. He began doing so after Los Angeles and USC police identified the safest routes to and from school for children in the University Park neighborhood. That route passed by Edwards’ home. A retiree, he became one of KID WATCH’s first 25 volunteers and still safeguards the neighborhood each day.
“I’m always outside gardening, planting vegetables, or working in the garage,” said Edwards, who lives near West Jefferson Boulevard and South Normandie Avenue, where, he says, conditions have improved in the last decade. “So, I watch out for the kids at the same time.”
Edwards, who said he always has been active in the community, plans to continue being a part of Kid Watch “as long as I’m here. I just want to make the community safe for kids going to school, and let them know that they have someone watching over them.”
USC Kid Watch Appreciation Day
Saturday, June 8, 2013
at the USC Community House
2801 S. Hoover Street, Los Angeles
USC Kid Watch Appreciation Day Agenda