High school volunteers greet Margaret White Elementary students as they walk to school on Walk to School Day earlier this month.
Special to the Times
BLYTHE - From Alamogordo, N.M., to Lincoln, Vt., Walk to School Day has evolved into an important tradition at schools around the nation including Blythe.
Palo Verde Unified School District elementary schools, Ruth Brown, Margaret White, and Felix J. Appleby, each participated in the local Walk to School Day earlier this month. At each of the schools, walkers, bike riders, scooter riders, and skateboarders were greeted by Parent Teacher Organization members, teachers, staff, and volunteers. Each of the participating students were given pencils and stickers.
In efforts to include all students in the Walk to School Day event, organizers made sure bus riders were able to participate by designating a bus drop off for each of the students that was near each school. Ruth Brown boasted the most participants with 450 students walking, Appleby came in just behind with 402 students, and Margaret White recorded 353 students.
Schools and communities are bringing a level of excitement and commitment to the event that the founders could only have dreamed of back in 1977 when Walk to School Day began with a single school. Since then, Walk to School Day participation has grown every year, with the 4,281 events registered through www.walkbiketoschool.org in 2012 setting another record. Around the world, more than 40 countries celebrate International Walk to School Day and Month.
In the U.S., some schools holding their first Walk to School Day event - more than 1,500 this year - are already thinking of making the event a tradition and Blythe is not an exception.
The reason for this unbridled enthusiasm largely revolves around four major reasons communities come together to celebrate walking and bicycling:
Promoting an active lifestyle and forming lifelong healthy habits of physical activity;
Increasing safety for pedestrians and cyclists by slowing traffic, building supporting infrastructure such as sidewalks, identifying and addressing safety and educating drivers about the presence of walkers and bicyclists; and
Building a stronger community by providing opportunities for children and parents to connect with the broader community as well as increasing school spirit
Or more simply, as a Pinellas Park, Fla., event organizer said, "Anytime we are promoting health, safety, and family involvement in one activity, nothing but positive can be the outcome."
The next Walk to School Day is planned for November and will be announced at each school. Organizers intend on making this a monthly event culminating on May 7, National Bike to School Day.