Students celebrate Bike to School Day

L-R Laura and ZoeAnne McCurren, Jill, and Dennis Dorsey

Dexter’s elementary students broke out their best helmets, jumped on their bicycles and rode in to school Wednesday as part of Bike to School Day.

Bike to School Day is an annual, nation-wide event designed to promote a healthy, active lifestyle for children. The day started in 2012 as an offshoot of Walk to School Day. The hope of the event is to promote safer and more accessible streets, healthier lifestyles and cleaner air.

Dexter Community Schools has been participating in the event for the past three years. The event is part of a series of programs funded by the Five Healthy Communities Grant through the Chelsea Wellness Foundation. The grant is funded by Michigan Safe Routes to Schools.  The Safe Routes to School program has also funded several city crosswalk improvements.

Dexter’s Community Education Director Kim Covert said Bike to School, as well as several other programs, help to get the city’s children moving.

“We’re looking at ways to get kids more active, so it’s prompted by that,” she said.

Kids who bike in received a free reusable water bottle. Every year the participation grows, though this year the crowd was smaller.

“It was little bit of crummy weather so I think a people were a little gun-shy,” Covert said.

The grant also funds Walk to School Wednesdays, which encourages students to walk to school instead of riding the bus or being dropped off by parents. Participants are given punch cards and a punch for every time they walk to school that can be redeemed for prizes like lanyards, T-shirts, backpacks and more. The prizes are brightly colored and picked to help keep kids visible on the street, Covert said.

“We’re just trying to increase their wardrobe of stuff to make it a little more accommodating for them to continue to ride,” she said.

Those who frequently ride or walk to school are given coupons for free breakfast as well.

Covert said she has seen the program have several positive impacts.

“We’re seeing kids who don’t even live in town walking to school,” she said. “One of the things we are noticing is there are kids who live out in the country whose parents drop them off at a friends house or at a landmark in town and walking from there.”

Biking to school also seems to be increased every year after Bike to School Day.

“What we consistently see once we have the event is kids continue to ride their bikes to school on  regular basis,” Covert said.

Although the programs are funded through grants, crossing guards are not. Covert said schools are always in need of reliable crossing guard volunteers and offer free training. Those interested should email Covert at covertk@dexterschools.org.

Take a look at the fun Dexter students had during this year’s Bike to School Day. All photos by Hope Vestergaard.

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