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Initiative promotes safe routes for pupils

Dearing Town Council members, McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and Dearing Elementary School officials are combining efforts in hopes of giving children a safe and healthy way to exercise and get to school.

The school recently became bronze member of the Safe Routes To School (SRTS) initiative, according to teacher Lynda Anguilla, who also lives in Dearing.

Through the SRTS program, the town will apply for grants to fund a paved, multi-purpose walking path on Main Street to the school, some sort of speed bumps to slow down traffic, and flashing signs to warn motorists they are in a school zone, according to Dearing Mayor Sean Kelley.

"Everything we are looking at is focusing on the neighborhood between the railroad tracks and the school," Ms. Anguilla said.

"We would like to provide a safer route for children to walk, and possibly ride their bikes, to school."

A walking event was held on the evening of Monday, Feb. 22 for parents and their children. The event had to be moved indoors due to rain, but that didn't stop approximately 90 participants from walking or jogging around the gym, Mrs. Anguilla said.

Students who walked got to autograph posters hanging on the gym wall and received reflective tags for their back-packs and pencils.

Earlier in the day, physical education teachers taught the students about bicycle safety, wearing helmets, the safe way to walk along a roadside, and promoted the importance of exercise. "Anything to get them out and playing instead of sitting around inside," Ms. Anguilla said.

Patti Sustrunk of the Safe Routes to School Resource Center, Shontrill Baskin of the CSRA Regional Commission, social worker Stephanie Taylor of McDuffie County Schools, and Sandra Mobley of the Medical College of Georgia were on hand at Monday night's event to talk to parents and pass out literature.

Because parents are concerned about their children walking alone, a "walking school bus" will be formed, in which parents take turns walking groups of children to school.

Web posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010

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