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Parents Work to Ensure Safe Routes to Schools

Thursday, January 19, 2012   (0 Comments)
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Parents Work to Ensure Safe Routes to Schools


Every morning, rain or shine, a handful of middle and high school student volunteers and two parent volunteers walk 24 elementary students to John M. Sexton Elementary School. The Walking School Bus was started by two parent volunteers, Anna Rouse and Deanne Fitch. The program started on the first day of the school year and has been going strong ever since. It serves as the perfect complement to other changes that have taken place at the school to increase physical activity since they joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program.

Rouse and Fitch received support from the Florida Department of Health, which provided a resource kit that included educational materials, literature, lanyards and prizes for the students. Local business partners also donated two wagons that are used to carry the student’s backpacks to and from school.

Rouse notes that the greatest challenge has been the environment. There are no sidewalks on the route to school so parents are working to receive funding from the city of St. Petersburg to install sidewalks. In addition to the lack of sidewalks, there were also no crosswalks and untrimmed trees made it difficult to see oncoming traffic. Rouse and others in the school showcased these issues to local and state representatives and have since received two posted crosswalks along the route and trees have been trimmed.

Sexton Elementary received the Bronze Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation last year and is consistently working to implement healthy changes at the school. In addition to providing a safe walking route to school, the Walking School Bus provides an opportunity for students to be physically active both before and after school. Rouse said, "A lot of children know the importance of walking to school. We do it because it’s good for our health and the kids get the chance to meet new friends.”

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St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce | The Chamber Building | 100 Second Avenue North, Suite 150 St. Petersburg, FL 33701-3351
Phone: 727.821.4069 | Fax: 727.895.6326