Letters: Schuylkill River bridge needs a face-lift

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The Columbia Railroad Bridge is an eyesore on the Schuylkill River.

Schuylkill bridge needs face-lift

Philadelphia is one of the premier rowing venues on the East Coast, hosting the annual Dad Vail and Stotesbury Cup Regattas and several other races. Last year's Dad Vail attracted "schools from 24 states, 3,700 student-athletes, [and] more than 35,000 spectators," according to the program. What a wonderful opportunity for the city to shine.

Unfortunately, to see the finish line, rowers and spectators must stare downriver at the ugly facade of the Columbia Railroad Bridge. It is such an eyesore. The white leaching stains, amateurishly painted college initials, graffiti, and years of neglect of the concrete arch bridge built in 1920 does not put forth a good image.

With all of the city's improvements - the Constitution Center, Avenue of the Arts, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Barnes Museum - plus hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention and Pope Francis, this bridge needs to be spruced up. For examples, look at the murals decorating bridges along Ridge Avenue toward the north end of the rowing course. Boston's Charles River, another major site for crew regattas, boasts handsome brick bridges.

If the city isn't planning to dress up the Columbia bridge, which carries SEPTA Regional Rail riders over the Schuylkill, it should. As a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain and an avid crew fan, I love Philadelphia and want the city to put forth the best image for visitors and area residents.

|Matthew S. Vollmer, Delran, lostntrest@aol.com

School has two women to thank

March is Women's History Month, when we pay tribute to the trailblazing women who secured opportunities for all women. I feel especially honored to work at Stratford Friends School, which was started by two dedicated women.

In the mid-1970s, Dorothy Flanagan and Sandy Howze, teachers at Lansdowne Friends in Delaware County, recognized that some students were struggling to read. In 1976, they started the first Quaker school for unique learners in America. Forty years later, their dream and hard work is a K-8 school where students with language-based learning disabilities have the resources to celebrate strengths, build self-esteem, and develop self-advocacy.

Their legacy is not just in the dynamic academic curriculum, the moment of reflection each morning, and the nurturing community of love. It is also in the courage Stratford Friends students show each day to try new things and learn new skills.

Next fall, the school will debut Shine Bright, an approach that integrates occupational therapy into our curriculum. Shine Bright will be the only program of its kind in the region.

As with all the women whose stories are told this month, we best honor Dorothy and Sandy by dedicating ourselves to improve the lives of those around us.

|Jill Dougherty, head of school, Stratford Friends School, Newtown Square, jdougherty@stratfordfriends.org

Watch where you get your 'facts'

Can those of us commenting on politics stop citing and reacting to less-than-credible, clearly biased sources of information just because we want to be believed?

The principle enemy these days is ignorance and the fact that too many of us are misinformed. The Russians couldn't have had much influence in the presidential election if people hadn't been so easily conned by lies, innuendo, and fake news.

When you believe in your position, you should be able to rely on facts and credible sources of information. Resorting to questionable online sites only compounds the problem. For those of you who agree, join me in sticking to the facts.

|Joseph Goldberg, Abington

Don't reverse fuel-efficiency rules

Since the recession, we've made huge strides by switching from gas-guzzling SUVs to more-efficient cars, helping the climate and our pocketbooks. But now, automakers have convinced the Trump administration to consider overturning fuel-efficiency standards that would cut carbon pollution by nearly 6 billion tons through 2030 ("Trump: He'll revisit fuel standards," March 16).

It's time for the country to put gas-guzzlers in our rearview mirror. Unfortunately, President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency is about to give a green light to keep making cars that pollute our air, endanger our health, and threaten our children's future.

|Ash Khayami, campaign organizer, PennEnvironment, Philadelphia

Guard against youth concussions

With March being National Brain Injury Awareness Month, Unequal Technol, a Philadelphia-based sports-protection-gear manufacturer, is alerting athletes, coaches and parents about the risk of concussions, especially in girls' soccer.

Among female youth athletes, soccer claims the highest concussion rate of any sport.

Girls are 27 percent more likely to sustain injuries than boys.

For every 100,000 exposures, the concussion rate in soccer is 4.5 incidents among girls and 2.8 among boys.

There are many detection, treatment, and return-to-play issues that adults and children need to be aware of. The risk of another concussion is much higher after the first one.

Wearing an ultra-thin layer of protective gear around the head won't prevent concussions - nothing will - but it will reduce the risk of concussions.

It's time that we gave the same consideration to protecting kids' heads that we do to protecting their shins.

|Robert Vito, founder and chief executive officer, Unequal Technologies, Philadelphia, vito@unequal.com