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On bicycles and on foot, students and parents brave the rain for International Walk or Roll to School Day

on October 5, 2011

School communities around the world celebrated International Walk or Roll to School Day on Wednesday, which is meant to encourage kids to exercise by walking or biking to class, and to stay safe by traveling with their parents or groups.

The early morning downpour threatened to deter students and their families from powering their own journeys to Chabot Elementary School in North Oakland, which also observes a monthly walk or roll to school day. But by 8 a.m., the skies had cleared. Even though the streets and sidewalks were slick with rain and slippery with leaves; children, parents and teachers walked, ran, skipped, scootered, bicycled and skateboarded into the schoolyard.

It was a hectic, cheerful crowd. Children wore raincoats and boots and shouted to their friends. Some of the older kids arrived on stylish scooters. Kelleth Chinn proudly biked up towing his daughters in a trailer. “I think we’re the only ones who do the trailer thing,” he said, beaming.

But some parents didn’t even know about the international day of observance to begin with. “We walk here every day,” said Maria Cabrera, grandmother and caretaker of eight year-old second grader Jacqueline Sanchez. She pulled her granddaughter’s hand and said, “We’re actually running late.” Jacqueline flashed a huge smiled and proudly said, “and today’s my birthday!”

Walk or Roll to School Day began in 1997 when the Partnership for a Walkable America, a network of non-profit organizations that work health and safety issues, sponsored National Walk Our Children to School day in Chicago. The event has evolved over the years, with some schools like Chabot instating their own more frequent versions.

Even though many students biked and walked in the rain today, Chabot administrators decided to postpone their post-event celebration until next week, hoping for drier weather. “We were going to give out bookmarks, erasers, fruit snacks,” said Edana Anderson, the school’s office clerk. “But now we’re going to save them.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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