FALCONER - Falconer Central School elementary and middle school students joined more than 4,000 schools across the United States in celebrating International Walk to School Day on Oct. 3, when school staff and community members led "walking school buses" along four designated routes to school.
"Walking School Buses work almost like regular school buses," said event coordinator Kara Peterson. "We set up the routes with pick-up locations and times in advance and sent that information home with students. The Walking Buses departed from their starting locations at 7:05 a.m. and picked up groups of students at the designated stops along the way."
More than 140 students participated in the Walk to School Day event. While some students regularly walk to school, many students who joined in typically get dropped off by parents or take the bus.
"It was really fun. I want to do it again," said Joseph, a fifth-grade student.
Each Walking Bus stop was staffed by an adult volunteer. The presence of adults along the route was important to parents, who were happy to know that their child would not be walking alone.
"I think it was a great opportunity for our students to walk to school in a safe and supervised setting," said Stephen Penhollow, Falconer Central School superintendent.
Penhollow and Peterson agree that community support was key to the day's success.
"We appreciate the help from Kiwanis, Town of Ellicott Police and Highway Department, FCS staff and parent volunteers. The police were a huge help in helping the large group cross Work Street."
One goal of Walk to School Day events is to encourage students and parents to consider walking to school more frequently. The event was a success thanks to the many community members who came out to walk with the kids. Out of the 142 students, more than 60 kids who normally are given a ride to school walked. Walking to school improves school success and makes healthier students.
Falconer Central School District received additional assistance with the event from the Chautauqua County Health Department and the New York State Department of Transportation Safe Routes To School program, which provided backpacks and reflective zipper pulls for participating students.
School districts or individuals looking for more information about Walk to School or Safe Routes to School are encouraged to contact the County Health Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.