AUSTIN (KXAN) — Lonnell Shackles sets up shop on a crosswalk near Harris Elementary School in northeast Austin. He’s been helping children, parents and passersby safely cross the street for 7 years. Shackles knows the familiar faces by name.
I want to be counted as a positive peg along the road of their life.Shackles
A road he once walked.
“Looking back at my own life when I was growing up… I’ve always had someone that had a positive effect on my life as I was coming along as a little kid,” Shackles said. “I want to be a good representative to all that I meet in the morning and the afternoon.”
A representative that could become “America’s Favorite Crossing Guard.”
He was nominated “for always going the extra mile” to keep people safe, according to a release from the City of Austin.
Shackles said of the nomination:
“Just to have the opportunity to be involved with something like that, I never thought of it. Never suspected it. Didn’t even cross my mind,” Shackles said. “But for the staff to think enough of me to nominate me to be involved in something like that… (pauses).”
Shackles lost his words but then remembered a story from his past.
I was always the bench person. I didn’t mind sitting on the bench, cause I knew at some point in time… I was never on the first team cause I knew some point in time somebody was going to come limping out of the game. The coach was going to look down the bench and say, ‘Shackles get in there!’ Then I was gonna have my chance, and that’s what they gave me. So when they hired me… I’m gonna make the best of it.Shackles
His peers and supervisors agree.
“Lonnell is always keeping an eye out for problems both big and small. Neighbors and families often see him clearing broken glass and debris out of the street — and thanks to his suggestions, students walking to Harris Elementary in the early morning hours received backpack lights to help them get to school more safely,” the city wrote in a release.
Shackles is among the 230 crossing guards under Austin Public Works’ Safe Routes to School Program, which provides and trains crossing guards who post up around 97 elementary schools in Austin ISD and six nearby school districts.
Safe Kids Worldwide sponsors the “America’s Favorite Crossing Guard” contest. The winner will receive $500 worth of new crossing guard gear and accessories and will be recognized with a pep rally at their school. People can vote for their favorite guard each day online through Dec. 12.
Last year, two local crossing guards competed in the contest: Thelma James, who monitored an intersection near Andrews Elementary; and Max Poss, who worked an intersection near three Pflugerville ISD schools.