Friday, October 28, 2016

What if the walk to school was vertical?

The small Chinese village of Atule'er sits atop a mountain that's half-a-mile high. The upside of living in Atule'er is super-fertile soil and truly awesome scenery. But for the 400 residents, there's a steep downside. To get to school, children must climb down a sheer cliff, using a haphazard system of 17 wicker ladders. At least eight kids have fallen to their death so far. It would cost $8 million to build a road to Atule'er, so Beijing decided to give residents $150,000 of sheep instead, and let the chips (or kids) fall where they may.

                                                                                                                     Chinatopix via AP
Fortunately, the children remain a their boarding school for two weeks at a time before climbing home for a five-day weekend, so the wicker ladders are not a daily risk. And believe it or not, thanks to coverage by CNN and many other media, the students' trek went viral and forced officials to consider solutions.

                                                                                                                  Chinatopix via AP
In May of this year, plans were announced to replace dangerous wicker ladders with a steel staircase with railings, so kids can walk down the mountain face. Best of all, officials actually delivered on the promise!! Construction began in August and should be finished in November. It may not be as safe as a school bus, but it's a huge improvement.

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