Parents, kids, educators and other guests took a walk before dawn to North Aiken Elementary School Wednesday – participating in the international Walk to School Day.
Belinda Cannon and her daughter, Audreyanna, walked hand in hand with Lakeshia Reed and her daughter Ayanna. Both girls are in 4-year-old kindergarten, taking part in their first walk to school.
“It’s fun to be here and important to share this with our daughters,” said Reed. “It’s a good experience for all the students.”
More than 200 people arrived between 6:45 and 7 a.m. at the Crosland Park playground, picking up more kids and parents along the route. A number of older students from nearby Aiken Middle School also took part.
The intent is to promote safe practices for kids walking or biking to school, said Bonnie Fulgham, the volunteer safety coordinator for Tri-Development and the SAFE KIDS coordinator.
“If we can save the child from a traumatic brain injury or other injury, then it’s all worth it,” she said. “We have had five pedestrian deaths this year, and hopefully we can raise awareness. It’s my first time at this event, and I’m excited.”
Rhonda Ray, the North Aiken principal, expressed appreciation to parents for accompanying their children at the event.
“Our staff supports safe routes to school,” Ray said.
The Aiken Middle School principal, John Bradley, encouraged students from the athletic teams and the cheerleading squads to come to the event.
“Our students are role models for the little kids,” said Bradley. “We’re really pushing the promotion of making healthy choices and having a good physical fitness opportunity today. I love having our kids out there setting an example.”
Among the Aiken Middle School students were Katelynn Cook, Dee Dee Hart, Shiana Sullivan and Katelynn Florence.
“We like to help the little kids,” Cook said.
She said with a smile that she also planned to look out for the other Katelynn along the route.
“And I’m looking out for both of them,” Sullivan said.
Winter and Jason Rushton accompanied their son, Jason Jr., on the short trip.
“It’s important to get out here with him,” Winter Rushton said. “We want to teach him about safety. He’s really enjoying this.”