The Edmond Sun
More than 75 Will Rogers Elementary students, teachers, parents, firefighters and police officers celebrated the day Wednesday at Fink Park as they set out walking to their school.
As they set off toward Will Rogers they were escorted by an unmarked police car, a motorcycle policeman and three fire trucks filled with firefighters wearing pink T-shirts in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Lights were flashing and sirens were sounding.
The students were participating in the International Walk to School Day along with communities from more than 40 countries with students walking and biking to school on the same day.
“We are registered for the International Walk to School Day,” said Leslie James, organizer and Will Rogers physical education teacher and health instructor.
Students walked for many reasons but for most it was a chance to get out and do something different with their friends.
Fifth-grader Lukas Weigand said it was the first time he had participated in the walk and he usually rides the bus.
“I decided to walk today because two of my friends were going to walk,” Lukas said.
Marley Forgue, third-grader, said she and her friend wanted to join the walk.
Each student received a Safe Routes backpack, a pencil sharpener and a token to tie on their shoe strings.
Firefighter Brandon Thornbrue was on duty Wednesday, but he said he has three children and walked last year when he was off duty.
“It is a good time to get out and meet with the kids,” Thornbrue said. “I want them to feel safe, but probably the biggest reason is because the City of Edmond supports us and we want them to know we support the city. Besides, it is fun to be with the kids and walk with them to school.”
Although Walk to School Day is focused more on walking and the first National Bike to School Day, established on May 9, 2012, focused more on bicycling, both days welcome and encourage all forms of active transportation to school.
“We promote walking to school also as a way to stay in shape and be healthy,” James said.
This global event started in 1997, and Will Rogers students have been participating for the past five years.
The Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago in 1997, and the event was established as “International” in 2000, when Canada and the U.K. joined with the U.S. to celebrate.
In August 2005, federal legislation established a National Safe Routes to School Program that provided $612 million toward Safe Routes to School from 2005 to 2010. SRTS programs continue to operate in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. As of Dec. 31, 2011, due to continuing congressional extensions, the total amount of funding apportioned to states was more than $978 million.
This event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school each October.
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