An event this Wednesday encourages students to use two feet, rather than four tires, to get to school.
International Walk to School Day is Oct. 6 and most area schools are participating in some fashion.
“The goal is to think about how you get places,” parent-organizer Liz Maida-Gerhart said. “Sometimes how you get places is a second thought instead of primary. (Walk to School Day) gets people thinking about how to get places.”
Maida-Gerhart practices what she preaches. Most days, her family bikes to and from school, but she understands that it becomes more difficult as winter sets in and the sun rises later in the morning.
“Part of the goal is to think about modes of transportation — on nice days, when the weather is nice, take some extra time to walk, bike or arrange a car pool,” Maida-Gerhart said.
M.C. Beeby is taking the opportunity to provide some walking and biking information. She is the executive director of Journeys From Home, a local nonprofit helping those who work with youth to teach the lifelong benefits of walking and bicycling. The group has developed a kindergarten through fifth-grade curriculum, which is expected to be implemented in local schools this spring.
“Of course we want paths and trails, but we have to get there from our own doorways,” Beeby said.
Getting from home to destinations in a safe manner is what Journeys From Home is all about, and its mantra is “look.” Beeby said pedestrians often think once it’s clear to leave the edge of the street they are safe until they reach the other side, but that is not necessarily the case.
“More people are killed in crosswalks than any place else in the street,” Beeby said. “Painted lines don’t save you.”
She’s delighted that there is so much participation in Walk to School Day, but is working to bring awareness to the event to keep it as safe as possible.
Journeys From Home provided all local schools with tips for crossing the street and a supplementary parents’ page.
Smith School families are meeting at Lockey Park at 7:45 a.m. to make the trek.
In East Helena, there are several starting points for each of the three schools where staff members will meet with groups and walk to the buildings. Everyone who participates can have a free breakfast.
There are six groups walking to Jefferson Elementary. Breakfast, sponsored by the Jefferson Parent Council, will be served on the playground at Jefferson for all students and their siblings.
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or firstname.lastname@example.org