By KRISTINA HOUSER
Denaja Scott, a first-grader at Ridgeway Elementary School, follows in her sister’s footsteps. Literally.
Denaja’s older sister participated in the Walking School Bus program when it began at Ridgeway Elementary seven years ago. Now, Denaja walks the same route to school each week with her mother, Alva Scott.
“It’s good for exercise,” Scott said, “and she likes to spend time with her friends walking to school.”
Ridgeway Elementary hosted a breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 6, for students and parents who particpate in the Walking School Bus Program. The breakfast was part of International Walk to School Day.
The Walking School Bus is an international program that encourages children to walk to school. In Columbia the program is organized by PedNet Coalition.
“The mission of the Walking School Bus is to get people active,” Dana Fritz, the Walking School Bus liaison for Ridgeway Elementary, said.
Ridgeway is one of 11 elementary schools in Columbia that has a Walking School Bus. Every Thursday and Friday morning students walk to school with volunteer parents. Fritz, who also walks the route to Ridgeway, said the number of children that participate each week is usually between five and 16.
The program has basic guidelines to ensure a safe walk to school for the students, said Fritz.
“When we have new kids on the route, I ask the other kids to shout out our rules – they all know them,” Fritz said.
The parents and students from Ridgeway meet at the Columbia Public Library and walk down Garth Avenue and Sexton Road to Ridgeway, about a 3/4-mile walk, Fritz said. There is also a route that starts at Hardin Street and follows Sexton Road to the school.
To participate, parents can register on the PedNet website.