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November 15, 2010

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Students feel safe when Gao and Cao are around

Traffic management assistant Gao Yongjin and policewoman Cao Jingjing have earned a special place in the hearts of the students they help protect.

Gao, who rises at 5am every school day, is stationed outside Shanghai Blind Children School and has helped students cross the street safely there since 2006. She became a traffic assistant eight years ago.

The 49-year-old says the job is more complicated now as traffic is much more chaotic as more parents are driving their child to school in the wake of several stabbing attacks at schools in other parts of the country.

Fu Min, father of an eight-year-old boy who attends the blind school, said "auntie Gao" is easily the children's favorite crossing guard.

"If they do not hear Gao reply to their greetings, they will ask anxiously if she's sick or where she is," Fu said.

According to Fu, who drops his son at the school gate every morning, Gao usually begins work at 6:45am, picking up students who get off the bus across the road from the school and then escorts them into the building.

Gao also uses a walking stick, waving it in an exaggerated motion to remind drivers to be more careful as the blind students cross the street.

"Having Gao at the school, parents have nothing to worry about," Fu said. "It's easy to help people, but it's difficult to do it all the time."

Gao is rather humble about her efforts. She says, with a smile, that she is simply happy to help.

Gao says the students give back too, recalling on March 8, International Women's Day, that each student gave her a flower to express their gratitude.

"It's all worth it," Gao says.

However, "auntie Gao" will retire next year.

Meanwhile, students at Tianshan No. 1 Primary School in Changning District will no longer have policewoman Cao to watch them as she is now pregnant.

Cao, 28, says the job can be complicated sometimes.

She recalls a middle-aged woman who appeared outside the school every day wearing a shower cap.

The woman was not escorting her child or grandchild to school, did not live nearby and her unusual behavior created concern among teachers and parents.

Cao, who chose to become a policewoman after graduating from the Shanghai Institute of Technology, says she worked tirelessly to help identify the woman.

It turned out the woman had a mental illness, and Cao helped successfully persuade her from showing up again.


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