On the occasion of mobility week, Brussels mobility saw things big, American style. The idea: set up a “walk of fame” near five Brussels schools. Students who do not drive to school can draw a star on a dedicated space on the ground in front of their school. For Olivier, this is a real source of discrimination. He therefore pushed the orange button to denounce this situation which he considers unfair.
Originally install a walk of fame near schools is nothing very shocking, the idea is even original. This is precisely what Olivier thought, passing in front of these new creations: “When I first saw these little stars, I thought it was a good activity for kids.”
However, when you look closer, the initiative has nothing to do with the famous Hollywood stars (so called walk of fame): “When I realized what was behind it, I was mostly angry”. And for good reason, these stars, drawn using stencils, are not just a simple decoration.
“Making Brussels a city for children“
The initiative was launched on the occasion of mobility week, and is particularly in line with “making Brussels a city for children“. The goal is to promote soft mobility options such as cycling, scooters or public transport. The students are then invited to draw stars on the ground, including the mode of transport used to come to at school. A harmless activity in appearance, but for Olivier, it is a real source of discrimination: “It is distressing to see this kind of categorization. It’s like going through the children to lecture the parents. But they have nothing to do with it, they are still too young to make their own decisions.“
Some parents just don’t have a choice.
The action to promote soft mobility therefore ultimately turns into a fiasco. And for good reason, several parents are of the same opinion as Olivier and find the decision completely absurd. Then begins a real wave of indignation: “Personally, I find it unfair because some parents just simply don’t have a choice. Some live too far away to afford not to take the car. Others have to hurry to get to work. There are also some who have to drop several children off at several different schools.”laments Olivier.
A point of contention between children!
And these stars aren’t just a source of frustration for parents. According to Olivier, since the beginning of the action, they also turn out to be a point of contention between the children: “Many of them are crying. Parents find themselves in an awkward situation where they have to comfort their children and justify themselves. All for nothing.“
And what challenges Olivier the most is the fact that the campaign is relayed to such an extent on social networks: “It is not a simple activity, the children are finally invited to brag about it.” Indeed, on the site we can see the following mention: “share a photo of the stars drawn with the walk of fame on your school’s social networks and show everyone how much you shine for a peaceful Brussels “. For Olivier, it’s the last straw: “This is clearly demonizing children in relation to their means of transport. Where are we going ?“.
How can you be so dogmatic?
On the political side, it is also an outcry. Several personalities have also expressed their opposition to this decision which they consider inappropriate and which, for some, opposes children. And the reactions are linked, especially on social networks. For Brussels MP Aurélie Czekalski (MR), this is real proof of discrimination: “How can one be so dogmatic to invent such activities? It’s outrageous to oppose the children“. Other politicians have also stepped up to the plate, such as Ahmed Laaouej, who speaks of a “walk of shame” (shame = shame): “How can an administration be so clumsy? It is a necessity to teach children the virtues of gentle mobility through pedagogy. Dividing them on this basis is unacceptable.“
“The idea was above all to make people think”
Contacted by us, Brussels Mobility considers that it does not discriminate against anyone. Faced with the speeches of certain politicians, the spokesperson defends herself: “We should see what is happening on the ground. The action was very well received by the children, the parents, and even by the teachers. We were on the field and everyone was happy. The idea was above all to make people think about other transport alternatives and to start a discussion. Facilitators were there to coordinate all of this and of course all the children, without distinction, had the opportunity to make a star. Here we start on a controversy when the goal is to be inclusive.
Faced with the reactions provoked by the school action on social networks, the Brussels Mobility administration adapted the text on its website by deleting the part “who do not come by car” so as not to stigmatize anyone. But for Olivier, that’s not enough: “At this age, we are easily influenced. We can’t just go back and tell ourselves that it’s going to be better. The damage is done.”
The action has been carried out since September 14 through 5 schools in Brussels. It ended with mobility week.