Westchase celebrates International Walk to School Day

1:02 PM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- It's International Walk to School Day! Despite the rain, about 200 kids and their parents laced up their shoes and tightened up their bike helmets to walk or roll into school.

Walk to School Day is an annual campaign to encourage kids to promote healthy habits, a cleaner environment and practice good safety habits!

Click: International Walk to School Day

The walk in Westchase was sponsored by St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, Fed Ex and Safe Kids Tampa.

"I think it's really fun to walk to school or ride your scooter and you get to see your friends," said Ethan Rosenblatt, 3rd grade.

His sister Mya, a fourth grader chimed in, "I really like that it's saving energy and I get to see all of my friends."

For parents, it was an important opportunity to teach their children about the rules of the road and safe walking habits.

"Today we checked our helmets and we checked the air in our bike tires and we wanted to be safe. We walked with a group and stayed on the sidewalk," said Jeffrey Rosenblatt, Ethan and Mya's dad.

These are potentially lifesaving lessons for these kids. Studies show Florida ranks highest in the country when it comes to pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and Tampa Bay ranks second in the state. Those are concerning statistics for Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin.

"When you look at that, there's a lot that needs to be done with our infrastructure, however, there are things we can do and that's walk our kids to school, help them get there safely and it creates a sense of community," said Griffin.

It's the hope of walk organizers that these kids won't just walk today, but every day.

"Our ultimate goal is to get them to walk and ride every day because studies have shown that children listen better, grades improve," said Bevin Maynard, a child advocate with St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. 

International Walk to School Day was not only a lesson for kids on safety, but drivers. Today is a reminder we all need to be on the look out for pedestrians and cyclists.

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