If you happen to have a toddler, you may be familiar with favorite vehicles. You may be lucky enough to hear the words “fire truck” and “ambulance” and “bus” so many times, they enter your dreams.
This is currently my life. Faint sirens elicit an upraised index finger, an expectant look, a smile forming, then, “Fire truck!” “Fire truck!” until the truck passes. The interest is strong, and I’m now seeing why “Touch a Truck” events in communities are so appealing for families.
CELEBRATING PUBLIC WORKS WEEK
I write this during National Public Works Week (May 15-21, 2022), when municipalities nationwide are celebrating by hosting events that allow the public to meet employees, learn about Public Works, and show off what their departments do.
The American Public Works Association (APWA) has excellent recommendations to celebrate. It suggests putting on equipment rodeos/shows, declaring an Employee Appreciation Day with a banquet or barbeque and awards, and sponsoring a sporting event where proceeds go to a dedicated public works project, among other suggestions.
I’ve seen vehicle design contests, with the winner’s design painted or added as decals on government vehicles. The City of Roseville, California, featured a coloring page for kids and offered to share the colored images on its social media account. In Eugene, Oregon, second graders painted a snowplow, and the department created “Explore Public Works” videos for kids.
My recent favorite, which seems very doable, comes from the City of Victoria in British Columbia. It created five “Meet the Fleet” trading cards; they feature a zero-waste truck, a garbage truck, a sewer cleaner, a sidewalk sweeper, and a street sweeper. The cards (some shown below) have fun designs and can be picked up at City Hall.
Anytime I tell people what I do, they are surprised public fleet management exists. Let’s spread more awareness! Public Works events show off the vehicles and drivers, but they can also show off the people who maintain and manage them. I’m sure some kids would love to learn about how vehicles work and how to fix them.
These events can be low cost and spread so much awareness for Public Works employees and the fleet vehicles they use. They allow you to cultivate positive experiences for potential future technicians and their parents, who may need to recall good memories the next time they’re driving and get stuck behind a garbage truck.
Besides professional involvement, I’ve never had much personal interest in such events. But suddenly, with a very interested child, I’m Googling when the next one is near me. Coloring pages? Yes! Touch a truck? Yes! Colorful cards with street sweepers? Absolutely.
I’ll see you at the next one!