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Students get in step with 'Move It' campaign

By: Michelle Carl Press Tribune Editor
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Students at Coyote Ridge Elementary School got out of the backseat Friday and hit the streets. Instead of being chauffered by Mom and Dad, they walked or biked to school as part of the City of Roseville’s Move it! Walk & Bike Clubs campaign. Since Feb. 5, students have walked to school every Friday to get exercise and reduce traffic around the school. “We want kids to keep walking on a regular basis and continue to walk more with the hope that it will turn into more than just Fridays,” said Principal Michelle Harmeier. “If students walk one or two times more per week, it benefits their health and traffic around the school. And it’s good for the environment. Plus it makes coming to school fun.” The three-year program is funded by a $215,000 Safe Routes to School grant aimed educating and encouraging Dry Creek elementary district students to walk to school, said Shelby Renfeld, Roseville’s grant coordinator for the program. “It gets cars off the streets that are adjacent to schools – thus decreasing the pedestrian vs. vehicle incidents,” she said. “It also gets kids off to a great start in the morning – wakes them up. A little fresh air gets them ready to start their day.” Renfeld said a supportive principal, parent volunteers and “amazing” students have helped make the program a success at Coyote Ridge. More than 300 students walked to school Friday along seven different color-coded routes to school. So no one forgets, student leaders such as 11-year-old Tanner Krupp are responsible for calling families in their walking group the night before. Tanner and three of his “assistants” also help their walking group get to school. “We keep control of the group,” he said. “We all stay organized with two in front and two in back and keep everyone safe.” Once the students arrive at school, they get to mark their participation on a chart and take part in an activity. On Friday students tossed and bumped beach balls around the multi-purpose room. Providing further incentive to walk to school, local businesses donate prizes including certificates for ice cream, pizza and mini-golf. Students squealed with delight when they learned Friday’s top prizes were tickets to the River Cats and a Trek bicycle donated by The Hub. The Hub owner Heath Sherratt said he grew up riding his bike to school. But highly publicized cases like the Polly Klaas abduction gave parents cause for concern. “After that, parents drove their kids to school,” he said. “In a way, the bad guys won instead of us taking the streets back.” Plenty of parents tagged along with their kids on the walk to school day Friday. Jelena Ilic said walking to school has been a positive experience for her son, second-grader Milosh. “I like it for recreation and good health. In Serbia, we would walk every day to school,” she said. “Sitting in the car he gets so lazy. I don’t like to see that. So I’m happy with this program.” She said it’s also good for teaching Milosh about traffic safety — how to cross the street and how to obey stop signs. Lisa Hanson said lines of cars waiting to drop kids off can be a problem in the mornings. “But it really doesn’t take that much more (effort) to get out of our cars,” she said. One surprising side effect of walking to school has been connecting with other parents. “It brings the community together when we otherwise wouldn’t be,” said mom Stephanie Jones. “And it gets the kids out and moving.” Michelle Carl can be reached at michellec@goldcountrymedia.com.