The school bells start ringing again on August 24 here in Cheyenne. Students throughout the city will cross the street in droves, running up to the school doors to begin a new year. But in the wake of the school year starting, many parents and community members are remembering the loss of Makaili James Evans, who tragically died while crossing the street to McCormick Junior High on November 5, 2021.

Makaili's mother, Janelle Jones, is setting out to prevent such a horrific accident from happening in Cheyenne again. Jones is the head of the #ForMak movement, a non-profit organization that seeks to create a safer route to school for all students. She and the Cheyenne Board of Realtors are working together to keep kids safe on their first day back to school.

#ForMak and the Cheyenne Board of Realtors Say, "Let's Keep Our Kids Safe, Cheyenne."

I sat down with Janelle Jones to learn more about #ForMak's efforts to keep kids safe crossing the streets on the first day of school. Janelle explained that the community event brings awareness that students are returning to school. "Not all community members know school is back in session," she said. "More importantly, we want to remind them where the school zones are. The goal is to have drivers slow down and take it easy at school zones."

Look For Red on August 24

To bring awareness to the return of students and school zones, Janelle and the CBR are wearing red on August 24 and taking up stations at school crosswalks across Cheyenne. They'll be holding signs reminding drivers to slow down and watch for students as they head through school zones.

Janelle and the CBR encourage the community to sign-up and help man the crosswalks for Cheyenne kids. "The community is really stepping up," Janelle says. But, she added that several areas around the city still need a few volunteers for the first day of school, including the Saddle Ridge and Bent Ave. areas. Volunteers can sign up by clicking here.

#ForMak and the Future of the Safe Route to School Program

When asked if #ForMak plans to implement school zone crossing support throughout the year, Janelle nodded. "After losing my son, I realized society as a whole is very reactive." she said, "We're trying to be more proactive and stop this from ever happening again."

So, how can the community expect to see #ForMak continuing its work for a safer school experience for students? "We want to implement ongoing reminders and have volunteers helping at our community schools throughout the year." The #ForMak Facebook page has become a regular source of safety reminders for the Cheyenne community.

Folks interested in volunteering for future crosswalk support can reach out to their local neighborhood school. For information on volunteering or learning about #ForMak, visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

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