Pittsboro, NC: Pittsboro Elementary School and Margaret B. Pollard Middle School celebrated National Walk and Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 4. These events were a collaborative effort by Pittsboro Elementary School’s PTA, Pollard Middle School staff, Active Routes to School, Central Carolina Community College, Chatham County Public Health Department, Pittsboro Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Chatham County YMCA.
Approximately 150 people participated in Pittsboro Elementary School PTA’s Walk to School Day. Parents, children, teachers, and volunteers walked one mile from Central Carolina Campus to school on Wednesday morning. Officer Delanie Warcup, Pittsboro Police Department said, “I think it is great that parents brought their kids out and walked with them. It was a great opportunity for the children to learn the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle.” Walking and biking events create an opportunity to be outdoors and provide a time to connect with friends and neighbors.
School staff and members from the Sheriff’s Department reviewed safety precautions and turning signals before they walked or biked to school on Wednesday. Twenty-four students rode their bikes to Pollard Middle School. Jennifer Sipe, Pollard Teacher commented, “We had a great turnout, and the location from Briar Chapel is convenient for biking. The students had a fun time, and we look forward to participating again.”
Jennifer Park from the Chatham County Public Health Department said, “It is nice to get outside, enjoy the great weather, and spend time together walking or biking. Not only does it model healthy behaviors for our youth, but it’s great to spend time together to prevent inactive lifestyles.” Building sidewalks and providing physical education programs helps to promote safety and encourages youth to be active.
Over the past few decades, many school districts have moved away from building centrally located schools. Pittsboro Elementary School and Margaret Pollard Middle School are located near neighborhoods. Ms. Park continued, “The event was great because parents could meet at a designated place and walk with their children to school. Families near and far from the school participated in the event.”
School siting is important as the county continues to grow, and building schools near neighborhoods to create safe walking and bicycling environments yields many benefits. Ensuring there are safe routes to walk and bike to schools helps lower traffic congestion, improves air quality, improves academic achievement, and builds an environment for people to be more physically active.