Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Safe Walk to School

At the very last minute on Wednesday morning, Anna June decided she did want to participate in the Safe Walk to School event. Kids were meeting at 2 locations, Avondale Park and Piggly Wiggly - to walk to the school.

They were meeting EARLY! We were supposed to be there by 7:10 at the latest.

Why so early? For photo ops, of course!

Here's the best one I got:

The walk was a part of a national effort. There were all sorts of media covering the event at our location.

Some background from the national PTA is here. I love how in the picture they used, the land is flat and the sidewalk is well-kept.

That is not the case here in Birmingham. On the streets that do have sidewalks, they are not very safe - lots of cracks and bumps. Plus we're not great at having our public foliage maintained, so the branches of trees and bushes were kind of attacking us when we got near the school grounds.

My colleagues at work helped organize the event as part of an initiative to help get African-American kids more active. You can read about Birmingham REACH for Better Health here. At first they said how nice the walk was, as the weather was fantastic, and the turnout was not bad considering a friend mentioned it on Facebook and we didn't even get a flier sent home (so I know others did not, either). I told her it was "nice" because at that point, we were still near the park, where the street was flat. "Wait until we turn the corner," I said.

When we started to work up a sweat going up the incline, my friend from work declared, "This is kind of a steep hill!" and I said, "Wait until you see the driveway!" It's definitely steeper, although the sidewalk winds around to give it sort of a grade.

The partnering organization, Safe Routes to School of Central Alabama (a program of United Way's Healthy Communities initiative), is helping us try to create safer ways of kids walking to school. Maybe they will start with having the sidewalks fixed and the brush cut back. We'd love to make the "walking school bus" a regular thing, but then there's the matter of the adults having to walk back to our cars. If there were a big enough group, it may be worth doing. I will be honest - it was fun to have an active bonding time with other parents. But then again, the drop-off line works, too.


Annie Gallitz said...

I know the route that you took perfectly! I am well acquainted both with the grade of the hill, and the poor condition of the sidewalks, and the overgrowth of the foliage. This , coupled with the fact that a child was very seriously injured by being struck by a car, across from the park, make this a worthy project. I am also concerned with the overgrowth of shrubs . etc., on the park side of that street; UNFORTUNATELY, we live in a world where parents must consider these things: Namely, the cover that this provides to child predators,considering the proximity to the grade school( God forbid). Was this area targeted,or suggested by you, Laura??

Laura Gallitz said...

No, I actually didn't have anything to do with the project. I was only marginally aware of it. I am glad we did it, though.