It was the first rainy day in weeks, but a group of more than 300 students from Meeker Elementary didn’t let the rain ruin their spirits.
Parents and students gathered along established routes and walked to school Oct. 7 as part of International Walk to School Day. The students had special guests, which included airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and a police escort to ensure safety from the Puyallup Police Department.
“It used to be a majority of students would walk to school,” said Principal Pat McGregor. “But now, a high percentage of students aren’t walking to school, so this allowed students to see what walking to school would be like.”
Meeker Elementary applied for a grant for safety improvements and to increase walkability, and one of those components was hosting a walk to school day.
“I thought walking to school was fun,” said sixth-grader Konner Hampton. “It was cool that we got to walk to school.”
Konner’s mom, Stephanie Hampton, walked along side of Konner and her other two children to school at Meeker.
“I think we had a great turnout,” she said. “Especially for it being the first year that Meeker has done it.”
Both Konner and his mom agreed that if they could, they would walk to school on a regular basis.
Meeker’s celebration for Walk to School Day was part of a grant the school received that will increase the downtown Puyallup elementary school’s walkability with more crosswalks, and help educate students on safe routes to school.
“It will encourage students to walk to school,” McGregor said. “It used to be there was a high percentage of students walking to school, but now there’s a high percentage of kids who are not walking.”
Part of the fun for Walk to School Day allowed parents to walk with their children.
“There were a lot of families walking together today,” McGregor said. “It was great to see families out walking and having those conversations they wouldn’t normally get to have in the morning.”
The Puyallup police officers also helped students arrive safely at campus, in addition to the airmen from JBLM.
“It also allowed us to encourage post secondary opportunities for the students to walk with an airman — that’s not something that happens every day,” McGregor said.
McGregor and his staff worked hard the night before the walk so students could be greeted with balloons, temporary hand stamps and tattoos, and enjoy extra time together before class started.
“The staff did a phenomenal job to set up the routes last night,” the principal said.
With Meeker Elementary’s first Walk to School Day declared a success, some are already looking forward to doing it again next year.
“I thought it was fun since I hadn’t walked to school today,” said sixth-grader Paityn Hodge. “I liked that I got to talk to my friends, and I can’t wait to do it next year.”
Carson and Stewart elementaries and Aylen Junior High also participated in Walk to School Day throughout the Puyallup School District.