Exeter R-6 School District students learned about exercise and safety during the community's 12th Walk to School Day on Oct. 5. Kindergarten through sixth grade students gathered at the First Baptist Church of Exeter to take part in the annual event.
"Thank you all for coming out to participate in International Walk To School Day," said Superintendent Dr. Ernest Raney. "I want to share some safety tips with you for walking to school. We do not want to see any of our students get hurt."
Dr. Raney encouraged students to always walk on the left side of the roadway toward oncoming traffic so that they are visible to passing cars. He also reminded them to always cross roadways at cross walks.
"Remember to stop, look and listen before crossing any street," said Dr. Raney. "Also, always walk across, never run, and be very cautious as you are crossing."
In addition to offering safety tips during the event, Dr. Raney spoke about the importance of exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle.
After Dr. Raney's address, teachers, administrators and City of Exeter staff members distributed treat bags to the youngsters attending the event.
Exeter City Clerk Myrna Eisenbraun has organized the community's Walk To School Day since 1998. Eisenbraun was on hand to help distribute the goodie bags during this year's event.
"I started it because our community leaders are involved, as well as school personnel, parents and of course, the students," said Eisenbraun. "The kids enjoy it and look forward to it every year."
Students at more than 30 schools across the state took part in International Walk to School Day on Oct. 5. Missouri youngsters will also participate in a variety of other activities throughout October as they celebrate Walk to School Month.
"We've seen a real call to action across America and in Missouri," said Cindy DeBlauw, University of Missouri Extension and Livable Streets project director. "We know that our young people, and even we adults, need to move more.
"National initiatives like Safe Routes to School and local ones like Missouri Livable Streets are trying to change these statistics by creating more opportunities for young people and their families to walk and bicycle safely," said DeBlauw.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, over half of all youth in Missouri reported being physically active less than five days of each week. This path can lead to later chronic disease like heart disease and diabetes.
The same survey showed that Missouri girls are less active than boys.
The Missouri Department of Transportation oversees the Safe Routes to School program, which provides children in kindergarten through eighth grade with education, training and infrastructure for bicycling and walking to school safely.
"Our hope is that a month-long focus on walking to school will encourage parents and communities to establish ongoing walking and cycling programs," said Jeff Cremer, Safe Routes to School coordinator.
In addition to the Exeter School District and the City of Exeter, the local Walk to School Day event was supported by the First Baptist Church of Exeter. Church volunteers served breakfast treats and drinks to the children who attended the event.