ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – The pain the community feels from Jessica Ridgeway’s death has inspired high school students to help protect younger children as “Jessica’s Angels” launched this week.
Jessica’s Angels are patrolling the neighborhoods around elementary schools, walking together in pairs for safety. They say they are not there to physically intervene in anything, but simply to be an extra set of eyes as students make their way home.
“It was really heart-wrenching and it was awful, so we wanted to turn that sadness and mourning in to something positive and we did,” Jessica’s Angels founder Alexander Groen said.
Groen is a Pomona High School student and says the tragedy he saw play out in his neighborhood inspired him to create the group.
“All we’re doing is walking the streets, going on a 30-minute walk in the morning and afternoon when students are going and coming from school just to be that extra set of eyes,” Groen said.
The effort started out as a Facebook page that has now collected more than 2,700 “likes.” Donations came pouring in and purple t-shirts were designed and distributed to interested students at surrounding Jefferson County high schools.
Despite the group’s best intentions, the Jefferson County School District is not officially on board, citing safety and security concerns.
“They’ve decided to not necessarily support Jessica’s Angels, so we’re out here on our own,” Groen said.
Still, parents say the proactive approach makes the community a little safer for its youngest residents.
“I think that’s wonderful. I think that’s great. This is a time when we’ve all pulled together and what they’re doing is beautiful,” parent Brittany Wilson said.
The school district says now that the program is more of a community watch with parents involved it no longer is deemed to be a school related activity, so the district won’t be involved or intervene. The district says it does applaud the group’s work.
LINK: Jessica’s Angels