Cleveland’s Walk to School Day a Success

Cleveland Elementary is a tough school to walk to at any age. If kids aren’t dealing with the dangerous roundabout where Alameda Padre Serra and Montecito Streets merge, they are hiking up the narrow sidewalks along APS. Or, like so many families do, they are walking down heavily trafficked Salinas Street and relying on the ever-present Ms. Hazel to help them cross Salinas at Clifton. Even with Ms. Hazel and her trusty vest, stop sign, and stern looks many parents have told us that cars still don’t yield.

But even in the face of all this, many children walk to school. And today for the first official walk to school day, even more kids and parents took to the streets. With a student population of 405, we had over 55 percent of the students walking not including all the parents and young siblings that joined in the fun. This is significant as previous weeks the number of student walkers was closer to 15 percent. Another clear indicator of success? A drop-off loop at 8:15 a.m., normally wedged with a line of cars waiting to drop-off kids stood empty in the fog.

It was truly a collaborative effort as the student leadership council posted cut-outs of feet around campus to motivate their peers, teachers encouraged their students, moms from the PTA and English Learner’s class helped by greetings kids and handing out raffle tickets, and even Principal Michael Vail led a Walking School Bus with over 20 kids (all dropped by parents that live too far away to walk the entire distance).

Students were greeted at the front of the school with snack bars and oranges, pencils, and stickers, and each was entered in a prize drawing. As a mother from the English Learner’s class suggested, “How about fun prizes for the moms?” Many parents were grateful for the encouragement of healthy behaviors and many students enjoyed the exercise and extra time with friends and family.

COAST’s Safe Routes to School will continue to work with the Cleveland community to establish long lasting healthy behaviors as today was just the start of a long and rewarding process. Because of the holiday, the next walk to school day at Cleveland will be 12/2.

Courtney Dietz is the executive director of COAST.

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