Girl Scout Cadettes from Troop 1547 in Portland have spent this winter educating the public about the importance of clearing sidewalks of snow and ice. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — Spring may be officially around the corner, but that doesn’t rule out snow in Maine, and a group of Girl Scouts hopes the community remembers a message they’ve been sharing all winter: Clear your sidewalks of ice and snow.

Eight Girl Scout Cadettes from Troop 1547 over the past few months have been educating the public about the importance of clearing sidewalks across the city. The effort is part of the group’s Outdoor STEM: Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey, in which Scouts are asked to find an issue in their community, collect data and create a solution to curb the problem. Once the journey is complete, the Girl Scouts will be eligible for the Silver Award, the highest award possible at the Cadette level.

“We were thinking about an issue in the community and when we are walking to school, a lot of the sidewalks are not cleared and shoveled,” said Caitlin Rohde, a seventh grader at Lyman Moore Middle School.

“Sidewalks that are not cleared are a safety issue,” Rohde said.

“There are a lot of little kids who walk to school, so if they have to walk in the streets (because the sidewalks are not cleared), it can be dangerous. Plus an older person could slip and fall,” she said.

The troop found that most of the the sidewalks near their schools are free of snow and ice after storms, but the same can’t be said of sidewalks farther from campuses.

The group explored resources in the city for people who have trouble clearing their sidewalks, such as the city’s Office of Elder Affairs. The office, led by Linda Weare, has teamed up with the Age-Friendly Portland Steering Committee to find volunteers to help senior citizens in their neighborhood shoveling driveways and sidewalks.

“The idea,” according to the city, “is to create a path that allows the senior citizen, emergency response personnel, Meals on Wheels delivery people, mail carriers, and other visitors to get in and out of the house safely. Once a volunteer receives an assignment, they agree to shovel for that same elderly resident(s) after each snowstorm.”

The girls also wrote a public service announcement for radio and a newspaper editorial on the importance of sidewalk clearing.

The troop, Rhode said, also looked into the ramifications of not shoveling. According to city ordinance, a homeowner can be fined $75 if their sidewalk is not cleared within 18 hours after a storm. A second offense results in a fine of $125 and a third, $250. Fines are higher for business owners: $250 for the first fine, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third.

Troop leaders Staci Hanscom and Cheryl Denis said the journey taught the girls what it is like to be scientists.

“Because it is about citizen scientists, part of this is about looking at what problems exist, creating a hypothesis, observing what they can do, creating an action plan and finding a way to help,” Hanscom said.

She said she hopes the troop’s effort resonates long after the snow melts.

“Hopefully they have done something that will connect with people and carry on well into the future,” Hanscom said.

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