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North State Schools Encourage Health, Safety With Walk To School

SDOT Photos
Flickr, Creative Commons

Kids across the globe tied their shoe laces extra tight Wednesday before heading out to school on foot for International Walk to School Day. This year schools from more than 40 countries participated – some were even in the North State. 

Fort Jones Elementary School fifth grader Lillian Keller said her favorite thing about Walk to School Day is simple.

“You get to talk with your friends and you get to walk to school,” Keller said. “It’s awesome.” 

It’s a fun day for kids, but it’s also a day to highlight more serious issues like pedestrian safety and getting kids more physically active.

Michelle Harris is a nutrition educator with Siskiyou County Public Health and a parent of two kids at Fort Jones Elementary School. During the school’s event on Wednesday, Harris said about 50 students were gathered at the city’s local fitness center for activities. From there the kids were being escorted to school in groups by adults.

“We have a highway patrol here blocking off a busy road so the kids are being safe, and we have about ten parents here wearing all nice orange vests so that we’re making sure everyone is seeing us,” Harris said.

Pedestrian safety is of special concern in much of the North State as many kids live in rural and remote areas. Community challenges can include anything from kids walking in roadways due to lack of infrastructure like sidewalks, to the fact that many homes are separated from schools by busy roads. Harris says some kids in her area even have to face the main highway that runs through the city.

“So kids if they’re walking to school they have to cross it and we are lucky that we have cross walks there, but it is a very busy street,” Harris said.

At least 20 North State schools are expected to host activities related to walking to school over the next few weeks.