Seventh grader Will Scully and other students walk to school along the trail in Butcherknife Canyon Wednesday morning during Wednesday's Hike and Bike to School program. The program is an effort to get children to walk, or ride their bikes to school instead of getting a ride from their parents or riding the bus.

Photo by John F. Russell

Seventh grader Will Scully and other students walk to school along the trail in Butcherknife Canyon Wednesday morning during Wednesday's Hike and Bike to School program. The program is an effort to get children to walk, or ride their bikes to school instead of getting a ride from their parents or riding the bus.

Program encourages students to walk, bike to school

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How to help

Parents and community members interested in volunteering to walk students to school or help students cross the street at crosswalks can call Paige Boucher at 970-291-4155.

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Thane Peppler leads a large group of students down the trail through Butcherknife Canyon during Wednesday’s Hike and Bike to School program The program is an effort to get children to walk or ride their bikes to school instead of getting a ride from their parents or riding the bus.

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Kathleen O’Connell, left, and her brother Finn walk to the Steamboat Springs Middle School Wednesday as part of Hike and Bike to School program. The program is an effort to get children to walk, or ride their bikes to school instead of getting a ride from their parents or riding the bus.

— Strawberry Park Elementary School fourth-grader Louis Dickson said he walks to school three or four days a week.

“I really think it’s a good way to stay active, and it helps you stay healthy,” he said. “And you get good prizes.”

Louis received a coupon for a free ride on the Alpine Slide for his participation Wednesday morning in the Hike and Bike to School program, part of the Safe Routes to School initiative.

Parent volunteers said more than 200 students who attend Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, Steamboat Springs Middle School and Lowell Whiteman Primary School participated in the program. The Hike and Bike to School program started last week and will take place Wednesdays throughout the school year.

Parent Paige Boucher started the program seven years ago at Strawberry Park. Boucher said the program started small, but she’s trying to expand it. She said about 150 students participated last week.

With a $16,500 Safe Routes to School grant last year from the Colorado Department of Transportation, which paid for bike rallies and maps that identify routes for students that should be available this summer, Boucher said she hopes more students will walk or bike to school.

“It’s just important in so many different angles,” she said. “It’s healthy, that’s probably our biggest reason, physically and mentally. And it gets cars off the streets.”

Many students were dropped off by buses or parents on Maple Street across from the Steamboat Springs High School football field. They crossed to McKinley Street and started walking with parent volunteers toward Strawberry Park and the middle school on the Butcherknife Creek Trail.

Sixth-graders Web Barron, Andrew Mitchell and Tyler Terranova were dropped off. The three said they didn’t walk to school often but planned to every Wednesday.

In addition to getting a Know the Code card, which middle school students can redeem for prizes, Tyler said walking to school is good exercise and helps the environment. Andrew cited another reason.

“It sparks your brain,” he said. “It gets your brain to work better before school. It warms it up.”

Citing research by Jean Blaydes Madigan, a former physical educator and founder of the company Action Based Learning, Soda Creek P.E. teacher Shannon Carlin Casson said exercise prepares children’s brains to learn.

Carlin Casson said walking or biking to school is probably the best way students can prepare for classroom learning.

Allison Tate walked her son and a few other youths from her neighborhood on Sandhill Circle and Hilltop Parkway. Tate called Hike and Bike to School a wonderful program.

“To get them to walk places and bike places should be encouraged,” she said. “We don’t live in a big town. Hopefully, this will encourage kids to walk and bike in the summer, to use alternative forms of transportation.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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