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Lucas students encouraged to walk to school
Lucas walkers
Police officers and parents joined Lucas Dual Language Academy students in a national walk to school event on Oct. 12 starting from Roeding Heights Park. The event was organized by the Lucas Parent Teacher Club. - photo by Jeff Benziger

Students attending Lucas Dual Language Academy were encouraged to walk to school during Wednesday’s national “Walk & Roll to School Day 2022.”

Before 8 a.m. students and their parents and police officers gathered at Roeding Heights Park to begin a walk to the Lucas campus a few blocks away.

The national event began in October 1997 and has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school. Thousands of schools across America participate every October but Ceres is the only school that is registered to partake in the event. One goal of the event is to excite students about walking or bicycling to school to increase regular physical activity and decrease the risk of obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Another benefit is reduced fuel consumption.

“Walk & Roll to School Day is an opportunity to speak to many different needs of communities across America,” said Nancy Pullen-Seufert, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “For communities that need safety improvements for walking and rolling near schools, this is an opportunity to highlight those needs. For communities looking to change mindsets about how we travel, the one-day event serves as a jumping-off point. Be it a quick-build project or first of its kind collaboration between new community partners, schools, community leaders and families across the country are working together to make active travel to school a safe, convenient transportation option for all.”

About 12 Ceres Police officers, sergeants and lieutenants participated in the walk. At least two Modesto Police officers whose children attend Lucas also showed up.

“That’s why we have officers come to block off the streets and walk with the kids,” said Brandy Nowaya, president of the Lucas Parent Teacher Club (PTC) who organized the event with Karina Hernandez, vice president of the Lucas Parent-Teacher Club (PTC).

“It gets them out for a little bit of exercise in the morning,” said Nowaya. “We just thought it would be something fun to get the parents and kids together to all do something.”

Nowaya said most parents are in the habit of driving their children to school out of fear for their safety. But she remembers always walking to school by herself and her parents never worrying.

Nowaya likes knowing that statistically children are relatively safe on their route to school.

Walking is not an option for some at Lucas given that the academy doesn’t have a typical attendance boundary and draws students living outside of Ceres and they ride to school in cars.