The History of the Traffic Light Activity
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Over a decade ago, I was teaching a class to a group of professionals who worked with teens at risk. There are actually many stories that came out of that class, but I am just going to tease you with the fact that this one wasn’t the best story....
Anyway, as usual, after playing our first game, “Follow Me,” I went into my talk about the types of violence that are statistically experienced. The game clearly focuses on the creepy person following you and how to respond. We all know that being followed is the least of our troubles, but possibly one of our biggest fears. That always leads me into the conversation on the spectrum of violence.
As the words rolled out of my mouth, “violence is on a spectrum like black and white....” one of the counselors stopped me and called me out on that as being inappropriate.
Wow. Yes! And how. And how did I never get it until then?
I mean, I had been an inclusivity advocate for people with disabilities for years before then. I am aware of language and intent. Heck, I am a lefty who hears left-handed compliments, is left out, and even eats leftovers. I get it.
Language is super important.
At that moment, I knew it. I was never going to be able to go back to saying that script in that way ever again. Thank G-d I had a long ride home because I knew I had to rewrite the story in a way that made sense and did not demonize anyone.
The ah-ha moment was a few blocks from home when I was stuck at what felt like the millionth traffic light along the way. TRAFFIC LIGHT! RED YELLOW GREEN. That’s a spectrum! And no one associates those colors, in that formation, with humans.
TRAFFIC LIGHT! RED YELLOW GREEN. That’s a spectrum!
❤️ RED = Dangerous
💛 YELLOW = Yield
💚 GREEN = Good to go!
And that my friends, is how El HaLev was introduced to the Traffic Light:
PS: It didn’t hurt that the following week at Ikea, I found a sale on bathroom rugs which were circles and those exact colors. Only kicking myself that I didn’t buy all of them upfront because I have never been able to find them again. 😊