Standing taller than his Grandmother, Anthony, being very protective over her, makes sure she gets across the street safely. When being dropped off at Zach’s Place, a respite/child care center for developmentally disabled and special needs youth, Anthony first makes sure that there are no cars and then quickly runs across the street hand in hand with Grandma to the facility. Anthony Pedersen is developmentally disabled and is always very alert and mindful of the fast moving vehicles that pass by Zach’s Place every day. So mindful and attentive, he said to his Grandmother one day after a car had passed going over 60mph, “Grandma, what do the other kids do in the morning when they can’t run like me?” Zach’s Place is a facility located on 741 Cache La Poudre in Colorado Springs, and many times a day experiences passing vehicles that are driving too fast for the area. Anthony gets mad and aggravated every time he sees someone driving too fast. He took matters into his own hands and knew that something had to be done. He proclaimed “That is it!” and said he was going to stand in the street like a school crossing guard and help the kids get to Zach’s Place safely. Zach’s Place staff listened to his concerns and frustrations and redirected him to create a sign that said “Anthony says, SLOW DOWN!” That day, he stood in front of the facility with the assistance of his staff aide and held his homemade sign for over 2 hours encouraging drivers to slow down - and many of them did just that!
When Anthony’s Grandmother came to pick him up later that day, his “Slow Down” sign was in the window and he was very excited to tell about what he had accomplished. Noticing there were no city traffic signs in front of Zach’s Place, Anthony’s Grandmother, Janiece Carlson, was so inspired by Anthony that she was encouraged to get the City of Colorado Springs involved. She contacted several people at the City Traffic Division and told them about how a child with disability made a difference in slowing the traffic down in front of Zach’s Place. She expressed her concern that there were no signs around Zach’s Place making others aware that there is a facility on that street that serves children with disabilities. It took several phone calls every week for several months in which Anthony insisted his Grandmother call every Monday. Finally, after their unwavering determination, two bright yellow wheelchair traffic signs were erected near the facility notifying people to drive safely and keep an eye out for persons in wheelchairs. Cliff, with the City Traffic Division, told Janiece to thank Anthony for his persistence and for having the smart instinct to realize that what he had done may have saved a life! When Janiece told Anthony of the great news about the signs, he asked “Grandma, am I a hero like my Dad?” and she replied “Of course you are - you will always be my hero!”
Not only is Anthony Grandma’s hero, but he’s Zach’s Place hero too! This determined young man had the foresight and consideration for the safety for others to make a difference and that is truly heroic. So if you’re driving down Cache La Poudre, please slow down for the children’s sake and for the sake of other pedestrians in the area.
Zach’s Place, a program of Special Kids Special Families, is a licensed child care facility providing families in the Colorado Springs and surrounding areas a place for respite care for their children ages 5-21 with developmental disabilities and special needs. Zach’s Place offers active, structured and free play while teaching life skills and socialization skills. Before and after school, weekend, evening and overnight care is available. Our summer program includes field trips, swimming, sport activities, park outings, craft projects, and nature exploration. For more information and to register for the summer program, call (719) 329-1717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.