Students attending Lucas Elementary School – officially known as Lucas Dual Language Academy – were encouraged to walk to school during Wednesday’s 25th annual “National Walk to School Day.”
Before 8 a.m. students and their parents and police officers gathered at Roeding Heights Park to then walk several blocks to the Lucas campus a few blocks away.
The 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.
The event is designed to excite students about walking or bicycling to school to increase their regular physical activity and decrease the risk of obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke. Another benefit is reduced air pollution from cars.
“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.
Ceres Police Officer Brian Peterson suggested that students should probably walk with other students because there is a security in numbers.