Last Friday, over 300 students (310 to be exact!) took to the streets of Drexel Road, making their way on foot and bicycle to their school, Los Amigos Tech Academy. Along the way, they were greeted by parents, teachers, several community leaders from the city, county, and school district, in addition to the Desert View High School Cheer team and special guests, Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat who cheered on the students. The school has built a tremendous movement with their weekly Walk ‘N Roll Fridays which is now in their fourth year as they organize parents, teachers and students to travel to school together on foot and by bike every Friday. While on a normal day, half of all students are driven and half are bused to school, it is this one day a week that draws hundreds of students to try a healthy, fun, and exciting way to get to school.
Ms. Elizabeth G-Flores was the designated emcee for the kick-off event, welcoming the swarms of students as they gathered in front of the Walmart on the corner of Drexel Road and Tucson Boulevard. As the Academic Behavior Support Specialist for Los Amigos, Ms. G-Flores knows that Walk ‘n Roll Fridays helps to support the social health of their students, helping them to succeed in the classroom too. As she rallied the throng, she articulated how this initiative actually helps them build a stronger school community, “The connections we make in that mile and a half are invaluable. We [the teachers] learn so much about our students in those walks to schools. Plus, we have fun! And if the students could, they would choose to walk and bike to school everyday!”
The Walmart Neighborhood Market Store which is the nearest grocery store that serves many of the Los Amigos families also came out in full support. Not only did they give away school supplies for participating students, the store manager, Jose Vargas presented the school with a surprise check for $1000! This really goes to show how creating community connections is just one of the many by-products of these safe routes efforts.
Also, special thanks goes out to Southern Arizona Roadrunners who continue to support the Los Amigos Walk ‘N Roll initiative through their Children’s Fitness Fund. They came out to cheer on students alongside their bright red roadrunner mascot, Fitz!
In addition to hundreds of students, we are grateful for all the community partners who came to support students and participate in the Walk ‘N Roll: Tucson Police Department, Pima County Sheriff’s Office, Pima County Health Department, City of Tucson Department of Transportation, Southern Arizona Roadrunners, UA Health Zone, Sunnyside School District Governing Board and Superintendent Steve Holmes, Desert View High School Cheer Team, Sunnyside High School Student Council, Congressman Raul Grijalva’s office, and Pima County Superviosr Ramon Valadez.
Each year, participation in Walk ‘N Roll grows, showing that it takes consistency and time, along with some very dedicated teachers to build a successful Safe Routes to School program. Feeling inspired to ignite a movement at your child’s school? Visit the www.saferoutestucson.org for resources, tips and ways to plug-in!