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Walk To School Event Lauds Pedestrian Safety
As students arrived on campus at Riverbank Language Academy on Oct. 7, they were given information on pedestrian safety along with raffle tickets for prizes to bring awareness to National Walk to School Day. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS


Riverbank Language Academy (RLA) hosted the International Walk to School Day this past week which promotes pedestrian safety, and helps create safer routes for walking and bicycling for area youth. This global event involves over 40 countries that walk and bike to school on the day of the event.

“I was delighted to host the Walk to School event at RLA,” said RLA Director, Vanessa Rojas. “This event was created keeping student safety in mind.

“Many of our students walk to school every day, they walk around in their neighborhoods and it is a great way to communicate to them a safe way to walk.”

Safe Kids along with FedEx teamed up to raise awareness at RLA for pedestrian safety in the Riverbank community. The walk to school celebration started early in the morning where there were a few walk sites to begin at like the corner of Jackson Avenue and Patterson Road or the corner of Oakdale Road and Patterson Road where kids, parents, and school administration walked to school.

“There are 44 children that are either killed or seriously injured by vehicles every single day in America,” stated Rena Lepard, Safe Kids Coordinator for Stanislaus County. “There are over 500 schools around the country that will be doing this.”

Lepard has been the Safe Kids Coordinator for Doctors Medical Center for the past two years. She explained that in 2013 there were 444 pedestrian fatalities among children ages 19 and under.

“The participation has been really great, the staff has been amazing just all the behind the scenes efforts that go on,” said Lepard. “The staff has been really good at getting all the information out to the kids and educating the kids prior to the event.”

The festivities included selfies with two Doctors Medical Center mascots, Roary the Tiger and Troo the Kangaroo, which had kids wrapped around them in the morning hours before school started. The students also received information to share with their parents regarding pedestrian safety and raffle tickets for prizes like helmets, retroreflective material, and water bottles.

“The kids looked pretty excited when they came in as a big group and they were cheered on as they were coming in, being our pedestrians and good walkers,” added Lepard. “So they were pretty excited about just walking to school and then also meeting up with the mascots, that was also exciting, and having the sheriff’s department with their dog here that was pretty great.”

There was a DJ on hand to keep the excitement of safety going that played music for all to dance to as well as games like hula hoop contests and balloon popping game.

There were two presentations given at the assembly, one by Lepard who discussed looking left, right, and left again while crossing the street as well as continuing looking until safely across. She also gave some Halloween tips like not stepping into a stranger’s house and to not eat homemade treats unless they are given by someone familiar like family.

The other presentation was given by Riverbank Police Services Sheriff’s Deputy Crowley. He also informed the students on how to be safe pedestrians.

California Avenue Elementary also participated in the Walk to School Day.

“All students participated in the assembly and they were very excited to have the event at our school,” added Rojas. “Many students went home and shared with their families what they learned at school, in addition, they also had a blast learning and playing hula hoop contests, blowing up a balloon, talking about safety and of course dancing the ‘Nae, nae’.”