Snowy Sidewalks Provide an Opportunity to Build Community

January snow and cold temperatures are a foregone conclusion in Kansas City. We know it’s going to come, we brace ourselves, prepare our homes, buy extra groceries and when it hits, it can still be painful. Our backs feel it. After the most recent snow storm, I was captured by the image of two young men walking along Broadway Street because the sidewalks weren’t shoveled. The hazard of too much snow on the sidewalk creates a dangerous situation for those who use them. In some communities city ordinances mandate that sidewalks must be shoveled and in others the law states that you can’t shovel your snow on to the street.

I am one who enjoys shoveling our driveway and sidewalk. The action gives me some quiet time to solve an assortment of issues and provides the necessary exercise that often gets ignored in the winter. But when my seven- year-old son asked if he could help, I was surprised with his level of excitement in not just shoveling our drive, but wanting to go across the street and help our neighbor as well. In Excelsior Springs, Missouri, a group of high school students created “No Flakes,” a volunteer group that cleans the sidewalks for seniors. In neighborhoods across this city people offered to help in whatever way they could.

Snow and cold temperatures bring out the best in people. People that might be polar opposites come together to lend a hand, regardless of their personal situation. That happened at the corner of Rainbow Boulevard and Southwest Trafficway during last Tuesday’s blizzard, when a Kansas driver was stuck in the snow. A group of strangers including myself, a cab driver from Missouri, and a female delivery truck driver from Wyandotte County came together to help. We didn’t ask who the driver was or what her politics were, we just helped. After a couple of pushes the driver drove away and waved at us with a gesture of appreciation. As for the three of us, we just walked back to our cars, with a little more snow on our pants.

Meanwhile, some neighborhoods still hope for some normalcy on their street as melting snow creates freezing hazards on sidewalks that were not shoveled. As the snow begins to melt, we slip, slide and sometimes we fall. In the back of our minds we wonder about the next snow fall and we worry about the freezing rains of February and March.

Winter, it can be hazardous to your health. In the meantime, enjoy it and celebrate those extra moments that you may spend with family and friends and the opportunity that it creates to build community.


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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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