Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Doug Baldwin surprises schoolchildren, stresses train safety message at two Lakewood schools

By Barbara LaBoe

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin always has to be alert for hard-hitting defenders on the field, and he wants kids to be equally alert when they're near train tracks.

That’s why Baldwin surprised students at Tillicum and Tyee Park elementary schools in Lakewood Wednesday to talk about train safety. Both schools are near refurbished tracks that will soon carry our Amtrak Cascades passenger trains, and we – and Baldwin – want to be sure children and their families are extra aware and safe when the trains start running this fall.
Seahawks star Doug Baldwin surprised students at Lakewood’s Tillicum Elementary School
 with an assembly to encourage safety near railroad tracks.

Students had no idea who was addressing them until the assembly began – and they certainly didn’t expect to be interacting with a Seahawks’ Pro Bowl wide receiver and Super Bowl XLVIII champion. Gasps, cheers and squeals of delight greeted Baldwin as he was announced in what was a surprise to many teachers as well as students.

“I want you to be really, really safe around trains,” he told the assembly.

Baldwin then led the students through an interactive video that stresses the need to be aware near tracks and to always obey safety signs. Trains may travel from two opposite directions, the children learned, so it’s never safe to assume you can walk around a signal arm, even if you’ve seen a train pass.
Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks leads students at Tillicum Elementary School
in an exercise emphasizing safety and awareness near train tracks.

Baldwin asked the students if they’re ever going to walk on the tracks?

“No!” they shouted.

“Are you ever going to take a shortcut across the tracks,” he asked.

“No!” they responded.

Using the video to show kids real-life situations, Baldwin also “walked” them through several scenarios they’ll face near rail tracks. Making the safety lessons fun and interactive helps ensure children will remember the safety tips when they need them. And, as children share the news about Baldwin’s visit, they help spread the message to parents and others, increasing everyone’s safety.
Each student at Tillicum and Tyee Park elementary schools
received a mini football at a railroad safety assembly
led by Seahawks Doug Baldwin.

In true Seahawks fashion, Baldwin also led the assembly in a responsive cheer, with one side yelling “Stay back” and the other responding with “From the tracks!”

The Stay Back From The Tracks safety campaign is a joint effort between our agency, the nonprofit Operation Lifesaver group and the Seattle Seahawks. Safety is our top priority as an agency and we want to ensure residents know how to stay safe near active train tracks, whether they’re on foot or in vehicles.

Beginning in the fall, 14 daily passenger trains, traveling up to 79 mph, are being re-routed to tracks that parallel Interstate 5 between Tacoma, Lakewood, JBLM, and DuPont. The multi-pronged safety campaign focuses on this change in service and we hope partnering with the Seahawks helps spread the message even further.

The campaign also draws on the expertise of the non-profit railroad safety organization Operation Lifesaver, whose volunteers have made more than 75 school presentations in the area this year.
Star receiver Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks poses with students from Tillicum
Elementary School during a railroad safety assembly Wednesday.

We had a great time sharing the train message with students and we know they loved meeting Baldwin. He may not be able to visit every school, but please remember his message the next time you’re walking or driving near train tracks: Stay back and stay safe.