Event organizer Sharon Hale hands out Safe Kids easy to be seen hats on Walk to School day.

Event organizer Sharon Hale hands out Safe Kids easy to be seen hats on Walk to School day.

Stepping out: Walking kids to school

Mother Nature gave kids and their parents a break last week and provided a sunny warm autumn morning for the annual Walk to School Day.

Walk to School Day is a national program where thousands of schools and communities around the country register their Walk to School Day events each year during the month of October. However, in Alaska October is darker and colder and even Mother Nature finds it hard to cooperate, so Sharon Hale, event organizer at Redoubt Elementary School plans our event in September in cooperation with Safe Kids of the Kenai Peninsula and Central Peninsula Services (CES) and the Soldotna Police Department.

“They are an important part of our community and Safe Kids and a huge part of keeping our community safe so we appreciate their support in coming out and walking with our families to school. The weather is just luck I guess but I don’t think we have ever walked in the rain,” said Hale.

This year participants were all given bright green hats with reflective strips compliments of Safe Kids of the Peninsula.

“Funds for the hats come from CPH and the Safe Kids program and hopefully the kids will keep them for the winter to keep their little heads warm as well as be easily seen when they are out and about,” said Jane Fellman.

The event encourages kids to walk or bike to school year-round.

“It gets a little tough in the winter when it’s so dark and cold, but I’m a walker and I love to walk year-round and encourage everybody to walk whenever they can,” said Hale.

That means drivers need to be extra alert when traveling near a school. Slippery conditions and near horizontal sunlight can create difficult driving conditions at any speed.

“We really encourage drivers to be extra aware while school is in session and take extra care when driving. I think the school district does a good job getting the safety message out to kids and their families whether walking or waiting at bus stops,” said Fellman.

John DeVolld, Principal at Soldotna Montessori Charter School in only his second month in his new position, joined his kids and their families in the Walk to School Day.

“I was born and raised here in Soldotna and have spent 15 years teaching in the District. I was assistant principal over at Mountain View and now I’m back at Soldotna Montessori where I taught for ten years. It was important to me as I went through the process of becoming a teacher and administrator to be aware of training up the next generation to return home and contribute to their community. I was born and raised and grew up here in Soldotna and it’s nice to be able to be back serving our community with our students. Being an educator is the best thing in the world as I was growing up and helping out as a volunteer with kids it reaffirmed my belief that spending time helping our kids perform and grow to become wonderful people was important. Today is a great day to talk and learn about safety when we are out and about in the community. While our kids get a lot of chances to exercise there is a lot of technology out there that may prevent it so any time that we can get outside with our kids they get a lot of movement and this another way of getting families out and moving. It was a great turn out today,” said DeVolld.

KPBSD Superintendent Sean Dusek and Redoubt Elementary Principal Bill Withrow join kids walking to school.

KPBSD Superintendent Sean Dusek and Redoubt Elementary Principal Bill Withrow join kids walking to school.

Walk to School kids get bright hats from Safe Kids.

Walk to School kids get bright hats from Safe Kids.

As the sun rises, students and their parents walk to school along Redoubt Avenue in Soldotna.

As the sun rises, students and their parents walk to school along Redoubt Avenue in Soldotna.

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