Redoubt Elementary students participate in International Walk to School day...

As the days in Alaska get darker and colder and the roads get frosty and slippery it's important to be aware of kids who walk to school regardless of the weather. In celebration of International Walk Your Child to School Day, October 5th, Redoubt Elementary principal John Pothast and Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche joined a group of local families to walk their kids to school last week down Redoubt Ave. from the Catholic Church. "It's all about raising awareness of safety for kids as they walk to school and we want folks to know we have kids all over our city who walk to school all year long and we hope people will look out for them," said Mr. Pothast.

In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago, modeled after the United Kingdom's lead. Back then, it was simply a day to bring community leaders and children together to create awareness of the need for communities to be walkable.  It evolved into a movement and by the year 2002, children, parents, teachers and community leaders in all 50 states joined nearly 3 million walkers around the world to celebrate the second annual International Walk to School Day. The reasons for walking grew just as quickly as the event itself.

Whether the concern was safer and improved streets, healthier habits, or cleaner air, Walk to School Day events became aimed at bringing forth permanent change to encourage a more walkable America one community at a time.  "In our community we've made a new cross walk and formed a committee to evaluate and analyze the places where there are safety exposures for kids walking to school and riding bikes. So this walk has a lot of positive aspects including all these parents who have made it a priority to walk their kids to school today as a family activity but also with the focus on safety.  So we have a beautiful crisp morning for the walk this morning but feel its particularly important to raise awareness for the motorists that drive right along side these kids every morning to be alert and attentive to conditions that can impair your visibility and ability to control your vehicle," said Mayor Micciche.  The International Walk to School Day is credited with fostering new legislation recognizing the value of Safe Routes to School programs that is providing funding for States to establish programs. Politicians and other government officials are paying attention to the importance of safe walking and biking to school. Obesity, concern for the environment and the effects of urban sprawl on communities has led to the joining of efforts among those that care about these and other related issues like school siting and traffic congestion. "Be sure you take the time to clear the frost from your windshield, there are some very precious little ones who count on you being able to see them as they happily walk to school every morning and they are worth the extra time for you to be sure they get their safely," added Micciche.