Students ready to walk to school safely

Lindsay Lovato
Special to Community Media of Colorado
Posted 9/23/11

Students and families from Littleton Public Schools will walk and bike to school in celebration of International Walk to School Day on Oct. 5. Walk …

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Students ready to walk to school safely


Students and families from Littleton Public Schools will walk and bike to school in celebration of International Walk to School Day on Oct. 5.

Walk to School Day is a national effort to promote more walking and active communities while teaching children and parents how to promote safer and improved streets, healthier habits and cleaner air. International Walk to School Month unites more than 40 countries in encouraging walking to school. So far, there are 2,560 events registered.

Littleton Public Schools participating in the event are elementary schools Peabody, Sanburg, Wilder, Franklin, Centennial, East and Littleton Academy; and middle schools include Euclid and Pathways, said Robyn Zagoren, the district wellness coordinator for LPS.

“We are participating as an effort to increase physical activity in our kids,” Zagoren said. “This is a great way to do it without interrupting everybody’s schedule and increasing any costs at home. It’s just great to get kids out and moving.”

Many schools are planning other activities like meet and greets at the school building doors to help get every student involved. Faculty members also plan to meet at school buses and walk around the school to include the students who take the bus to school.

Peabody Elementary School plans to combine their walking to school day activities with a ribbon-cutting at 8:30 a.m. to open phase one of the Centennial Regional Trail Link. The trail is part of the Peabody rest stop for Peabody students and family members participating in the Walk to School Day events. The event will be at 8 a.m. at Peabody Elementary School, 3128 S. Maplewood Ave. in Centennial.

School buses will drop riders off at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit on University and Josephine Way at 8:20 a.m. to allow the students, staff and parents to walk as a community to the rest stop, and other students will join them at the school site. Along with the ribbon-cutting, members of the student body, staff and community will help plant trees and shrubs in the rest area. Superintendent Scott Murphy and several board of education members are expected to attend.

“Every school in LPS is unique in terms of their community and what each school has to offer,” said Kristin Ryan, principal of Peabody Elementary. “Our close-knit, supportive parents and community members participate at Peabody in so many ways, from classroom volunteers to field trips. This event once again symbolizes how the Peabody community comes together to support and celebrate the immediate neighborhood and public education. It is the neighborhood feeling that makes Peabody unique.”

The new 1.25 mile, 10-foot-wide trail is a link that will provide the community access to other destinations like Peabody Elementary School, Goodson Recreation Center, deKoevend Regional Park and the High Land Trail.

The South Suburban Parks and Recreation District also is involved in Littleton Public Schools events by providing 24 customized maps of safe walking routes for the community to bicycle or walk to school safely, said Jamie DeBartolomeis of South Suburban. The recreation district will also give about 15,000 students in the district free passes to the South Suburban Ice Arena. The rec district also is sponsoring the Peabody tree and shrub planting along the new trail.

“We thought it would be pretty neat for the kids to plant a tree and then as they walk to school for the rest of the year they can watch their trees and bushes grow and take root,” DeBartolomeis said.

In 2005, new legislation provided funding for states to establish Safe Routes to School programs to help communities learn the importance of safe walking and biking to school.

October also marks Colorado’s Pedestrian Month, according to The Colorado Department of Transportation.

CDOT is doing its part to promote the event with its Safe Routes to School program, which will help improve local routes to schools by making them safer for children to walk or bike.

“Walking and bicycling to school enhances the health of kids, improves air quality and helps the environment,” said Marissa Robinson, CDOT Safe Routes to School program manager. “Walk to School events are aimed at bringing forth permanent change to encourage a more pedestrian-friendly Colorado, one community at a time.”

Walk to School Day was established in the United States by the Partnership for a Walkable America in 1997. The first event took place in Chicago. This year marks the 14th year of this one-day event. In 2000, International Walk to School Day was created when the U.S., Canada and Great Britain joined together to promote more walk to school programs, the Walk to School website says.

For Littleton Public Schools, the event continues to gain more participation from students, staff and parents.

“It does grow each year; last year in LPS one school participated, this year nine schools are participating,” Zagoren said. “For Littleton we are looking at increasing physical activity for all our students to combat rising obesity rates in Colorado.”


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