Thousands of students, parents, teachers and community leaders across New Mexico walked, biked, scooted and skated to school on Wednesday, Oct. 2, in celebration of the 23rd annual National Walk to School Day.
This year, 38 elementary — including Puesta del Sol Elementary in the City of Vision — and middle schools in New Mexico registered Walk to School Day events on walkbiketoschool.org. The total number of schools and events is expected to grow as celebrations continue throughout October, National Walk to School Month.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation and local law enforcement officials encourage drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to remember to “Look for Me” as they navigate the public roadways, bikeways and sidewalks.
National Walk to School Month is an opportunity to remind us all to use extreme caution when driving through school zones, residential neighborhoods, parks, downtowns and wherever else children may be walking or biking.
“As community leaders and parents, it is our responsibility to keep our kids safe and that extends to when we are behind the wheel,” said NMDOT Secretary Michael Sandoval. “When our streets are safe and comfortable for kids walking and biking to school, everyone wins.”
In Las Cruces, 25 local elementary schools held events, said Safe Routes to School program coordinator Ashleigh Curry. She expected 3,500 participants.
Walk to School Day events raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling, and emphasize the importance of a broad range of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concerns for the environment. The events build connections between families, schools and the broader community.
“This is a wonderful way to promote fitness as well as a prudent thing to do for our environment,” said PdS Principal Dana Petro, adding this was Puesta’s seventh year of participation in the national event.
The event coincided with the Puesta PTA’s Walk-a-thon Fundraiser, held during the school day. Students learned about positive fitness, how to become more active and eat more healthily.
“We are excited about this fundraiser, as it will have positive results both physically and financially,” said PTA president Ashley Benavidez.