Koloa Elementary students’ Walk to School Day

One hundred and sixteen Koloa Elementary School students gathered to walk to school on May 11, 2011.

From the Garden Island Newspaper May 12, 2011 — KOLOA — Organizers of Koloa Elementary School’s first Walk to School Day said they were ecstatic over the turnout Wednesday [May 11, 2011] morning.

“We had only 30 students signed up,” said Debbie Lindsey, the school’s principal. “But look at this. We have about half the school here this morning. If everyone shows up, we have 248 students, and of that, 116 students are walking to school.”

Teddy Blake, described as a Koloa Community Champion by Get Fit Kaua‘i Island Coordinator Bev Brody, said the route used by the students is the same one he used when he went to Koloa School.

Photo by Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island More than 100 Koloa Elementary School students, parents and dignitaries leave the Koloa Big Save store as part of Koloa School’s first Walking School Bus program Wednesday morning.

But there are some differences, Blake said, noting the lack of bare feet.

“In our days, everyone went barefoot,” Blake said. “Look at how many shoes and slippers today. It must be a liability thing.”

He also pointed out the lack of sidewalks along the route leading from the Koloa Big Save store to the school.

These lack of features did not go unnoticed as state Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-16th District, was busy taking photos of the event. Among the other dignitaries taking part were state Sen. Ron Kouchi, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Kaua‘i County Council Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura, Councilman Mel Rapozo and Deb Hubsmith, the director of the National Safe Routes to School Partnership who was visiting from California and leaving with photos of the event.

Brody said while Kapa‘a Elementary School has already hosted five events, this was the first for Koloa School and a huge success.

On Tuesday afternoon, they walked a potential route with Pat Gegen of the Kalaheo School PTSA for a future Walk to School Day event, she said.

Jenn Bloom, the Get Fit Kaua‘i Safe Routes to School coordinator, said Kilauea Elementary School has plans to do a Walk to School Day event in the fall and other schools planning events include Wilcox Elementary School.

Prior to the walk, Louie Abrams, president of the Koloa Community Association, coordinated having fresh fruit and water available for the walkers, another supply waiting at the school when the group arrived.

Leaving under overcast skies, the group avoided the muddy road shoulders by walking on Waila‘au Road to the four-way Waikomo Road intersection.

Crossing the intersection, the entourage continued on Waikomo Road to Po‘ipu Road where Kaua‘i Police Department officers stopped traffic briefly so the group could safely cross Po‘ipu Road to the school.

Jason Fujinaka, the morning on-air personality at FM97, said the event would cut down traffic.

Hubsmith offered a Safe Routes to School brochure, which says 20 to 30 percent of morning rush hour traffic is generated by parents driving children to school, based on national statistics.

But more importantly, Hubsmith said the correlation between the number of children walking or bicycling to school has plummeted and childhood obesity has skyrocketed.

Visit www.saferoutespartnership.orgfor more information.

Play slideshow from the walk, photos by Esti Grinpas.

How is Hawaii doing on spending federal transportation enhancement funds for Safe Routes to School projects? Not well. For more info on Hawaii's SR2S record.

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