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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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10/31/2012 10:30:00 PM
Prescott students take part in Walking School Bus
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Parent volunteers walk with Lincoln School students down Park Avenue Tuesday morning as part of a new program called the Walking School Bus.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Parent volunteers walk with Lincoln School students down Park Avenue Tuesday morning as part of a new program called the Walking School Bus.
Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

As students in the Walking School Bus program prepared to cross the street on their way to Lincoln School in Prescott, parent volunteer Alynn Lassiter, who led the group, reminded them to "buddy up to cross."

"I get more time to talk to friends when we walk to school," said Collin Aldridge, a fifth-grader.

About 13 children walk to school with parent volunteers trained in pedestrian safety who wear high visibility vests, said Charlotte Green, coordinator of the program for Prescott Alternative Transportation.

"Lincoln School is the first school to adopt the Walking School Bus in Yavapai County," Green said. "We just started the program last week, and the school has been so enthusiastic about the program and getting kids to sign up."

Students and parent volunteers meet at the church parking lot at the corner of Park Avenue and Copper Basin Road at 7:40 a.m. each school day, then walk to school, making four stops to pick up more students along the way.

"My friend up the street walks and I wanted to come with her," said Isabella Urias, a second-grader, as she waited with her father in the parking lot of Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Isabella's dad, Frank Coburn, said they live close by and signed up for the program right away.

"It's a good idea for the kids, great exercise and it's fun," said Katie Harrell, a parent volunteer who walked at the back of the group.

As Emily Aranda and Audrey Alrdridge, both third-graders, walked side-by-side, they and the other students talked about what they did over the weekend, their Halloween costumes, events at school, and more.

"Walking to school gives the kids extra social time," Lassiter said. "After the first day, I asked the kids to give a thumbs up if they liked it or a thumbs down if they didn't. They all gave a thumbs up and said they absolutely loved it."

Sharon Mortensen and her sons, Jake, a third-grader, and Ridley, a second-grader, joined the group at one of the stops and she said since they enjoy walking to school they wanted to take part.

"We are excited to offer this program," Lincoln Principal Teresa Bruso said. "It's a great opportunity for students to build community and healthy lifestyles as they walk to school each day."

Last March, the Arizona Department of Transportation brought PedNet Coalition from Columbia, Mo., to Prescott for a workshop on the Walking School Bus program and Prescott Alternative Transportation received grant money to get the program started, Green said.

Parents often say safety issues keep them from letting their children walk to school, but providing adult supervision may reduce those concerns, according to the Walking School Bus website.

"Walking to school gets students more focused before classes start, increases their interest in nature and the environment, reduces obesity, and decreases vehicle emissions," Green said.

The Walking School Bus will continue for another month, take a break for the snowy weather, then pick back up in the spring, Green said.

"Hopefully, in the spring we'll have more participants, create more Walking School Bus routes, and other schools will get involved," Green said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Article comment by: JR Ewing

I would like to rebut the comments posted by Really and JT.

As a child, I walked to school 2 miles each way on a daily basis whether it was 72 degrees or
below zero.

Back in the 60s and 70s, there was substantially less traffic on the streets. And those who were
driving were subject to far stricter scrutiny by the MVDs when getting and renewing driving licenses. These days the MVDs hand out driver licenses as if they were candy and a Second Amendment right. As a result, traffic has not only inappropriately increased,
there is no longer the quality control to screen drivers who have no business being behind the wheel.

Additionally, as a child, I never had to worry about being attacked by sex offenders and sociopaths. The state mental hospital was just down the road. I had the daily peace of mind strolling to my school's homeroom knowing that I was safe from the crazies. I was never approached by an adult stranger when walking to school, and all the while, my Mom always
affirmed that I was so cute. These days, mental institutions are politically incorrect because they 'offend' the mentally challenged, and medication is now the treatment of choice. The crazies have moved from supervised facilities to the streets.

We therefore must find other ways to encourage our children to walk to school because times have changed. It is no longer safe walking to school like it used to be. If it means finding grant money, then so be it. I am most grateful for the Prescott
Alternative Transportation and ADOT for encouraging children to walk again. The PAT and
ADOT are truly the urban heroes of today bringing back the American tradition of walking
to school. Thank you PAT and ADOT!

Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2012
Article comment by: Katy Harrell

I am one of the volunteers. It was great fun. Park Ave is very busy and not safe. I am glad to help. Maybe we should think about how fun it is for the kids!

Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2012
Article comment by: Really .

You know, I'm going to side with J T on this one, and I'm normally a PAT supporter.
Grant money. For walking. How wonderfully PC. I walked to school everyday. I didn't require teachers or parent volunteers to do it. Guess what? I didn't cost anything, either.
I'm curious to know how this method is any safer for the kids - high visibility vests and all. This sounds like a device to satisfy liability rather than safety.

Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2012
Article comment by: J T

"Prescott Alternative Transportation received grant money to get the program started, Green said"
A group of kids walking to school now requires grant money???
Just another scam by PAT. All for the "children" of course.

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