Schools getting students on their feet
MONTROSE — This week nearly 1,500 students from three Montrose schools will participate in the annual International Walk to School Day aimed to increase physical exercise and educate kids about street safety.
Pomona Elementary and Centennial and Columbine middle schools will participate in the event Wednesday, and school officials at Pomona are making the program weeklong, beginning today.
Sheryl Solow of Montrose County School District RE-1J, said kids attending these schools can walk, ride bikes and use skateboards to “power themselves” to school.
This year an estimated 3,500 schools in the United States will join similar events in as many as 40 different countries. Two years ago, the Altrusa Club of Montrose sponsored Bike to School Day, and Solow said that event will be held in conjunction with the international program, with hopes the district can get 25 percent more participation over last year.
“Basically we’re trying to get kids to be healthier and come to school without using a car. We want them to feel safe walking to school,” Solow said.
Participating students will be entered each day into a drawing for prizes, including a new bike, gift cards and other items. Each participating school with 25 percent participation will receive $200 from Altrusa to fund fitness programs.
The school district, Altrusa and the Montrose Police Department will conduct safety seminars, teaching safe practices and providing information about walking and biking routes within the city.
“It’s a health issue. It’s an environmental issue,” Solow said.
Solow said the program is a good educational tool for parents who may be looking to reduce fuel costs associated with transportation to and from school.
Centennial Middle School recently completed new sidewalks to increase student safety around the school, receiving help from the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Solow said other Montrose schools are looking at similar grants to renovate sidewalks and crosswalks.
The program is in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Campaign.
Walk to School Day was established in the U.S. in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America.
In 2000, the U.S., Canada and Great Britain, all with similar programs, created the International Walk to School Day.