Learning To Walk … To School

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I didn’t have to go uphill three miles and through the snow in both directions, but every weekday was “walk to school day” when I was a kid,

So I sort of shake my head when I hear about the “training” of parents and school faculty for an annual “Walk to School Day” event. I’m positive no one trained my mother to open the front and door and shout, “You better get going, you’re late!”

I’m not knocking the event or the participants. I just think it’s sad that kids walking to school is a big deal.

When I was in grammar school (back during the Nixon administration), students either walked, pedaled their bicycles or rode the school bus. By the time I reached high school, the options had expanded to driving and catching a ride with a friend. Still, plenty of us hoofed it, or jumped on either the school bus or city bus. Parents did not drive their kids to school.

Things began to change during the 1980s, and soon schools had to accommodate a convoy of private SUVs carrying Junior and Missy all of six or eight blocks. Nowadays, kids are far more likely to be overweight or suffering from diabetes than they were when I was young. This isn’t solely because they don’t walk to school anymore, but there’s a well-documented correlation between physical activity and youngsters’ health.

Granted, some kids in Shasta County live a long way from school. But I think our definition of “long way” has tightened over the years. When I was 10, I didn’t think anything of walking to my friend’s house, even though she lived a hilly 30-minute hike away. (It was 1.2 miles, according to Google maps, which, I assure you, did not exist in 1974.)

Where was I going with this rant? … Oh yeah, training for Walk to School Day. The folks who organize the Shasta Safe Routes to School program are offering the training from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, at the Shasta County Public Health Department, 2650 Breslauer Way, in Redding. Alta Mesa, Junction, Manzanita and Turtle Bay schools are already signed up for Walk to School Day, but parents and staff from any school in Shasta County are welcome to attend. Among the topics will be “walking school buses,” for which students gather at a park, business or church before walking as a group with adult supervision to campus. Great idea.

The national Walk to School Day event is in October. Sara Sundquist, Safe Routes to School coordinator, said the training session will help people put together their Walk to School Day plans over the summer so that promotion may start as soon as school begins in August.

Of course, the point of the event and the training sessions is to get children walking or bicycling to school on a regular basis. And that’s commendable. For details and training registration information, contact Sundquist at 245-6457.

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• Speaking of active kids … Whiskeytown’s junior lifeguard and waterfront lifeguard training programs are scheduled to begin June 8 for youths 10 to 17 years old. Classes are set for 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays through July 14 at Brandy Creek Beach in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Participants must be able to swim 400 yards in no more than 12 minutes. Participants who complete the necessary hours of instruction and pass exams may be certified in first aid, water rescue, CPR and lifeguard training. For details, contact lead lifeguard Debra Olson at 241-5302, or simply come to the first session.

• The Anderson Chamber of Commerce’s business expo is this Wednesday, May 19, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the fairgrounds. There should be plenty of useful information for business owners and managers, and would-be entrepreneurs. Contact the chamber for details, 365-8095.

• Something to keep in mind for this summer: The Bureau of Land Management’s popular Douglas City campground on the Trinity River will close for the year on July 5 so that BLM crews may complete a river restoration project. However, the nearby Steel Bridge campground is undergoing a number of improvements and will remain open.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and really did walk to school. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

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has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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1 Response

  1. Avatar shelly shively says:

    As one who attended kindergarten through high school from 1961 to 1974, I can easily relate to your amusement of "Walking-to-School-Training". I particularly recall the walk from our home on South St to Pine Street School….felt like 5 miles, but a googlemap check indicates .6 mile. Those were different times. When I first heard of this new program, my first thought was of children being hit by cars or being picked up by 'every parent's nightmare'. My 3 kids were raised in South Lake Tahoe during the 80's and 90's, where small-town familiarity, freedom and safety were enjoyed….until the abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Ironically, Jaycee's parents had moved from L.A. to Tahoe just a few years prior, for safety of their children. Were I a parent of children today, I would be extremely cautious about allowing them to walk to school unless they traveled in groups or with an adult. Too bad that the majority of kids today won't know the independence of walking, skating or riding bikes in the radius of their neighborhood. "Be home before dark!" was a common request of parents to kids in our era (without the benefit of cell phones). Speaking of dark,…. how many of us trick-or-treated for hours-in the dark, going from house to house of strangers, without parents tagging along? I wonder if fear of harm to our kids has negatively impacted carefree childhoods. Perhaps this fear of harm could be assuaged if more people of all ages began walking or riding bikes to destinations…..good way to experience Redding and our fellow peeps while leading our kids by example.