The Virginia Department of Transportation awarded Alexandria schools a $95,000 Safe Routes to School grant, Alexandria City Public Schools announced last week. The grant is supposed to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle through helping schools increase the number of students who walk and bike to school.
These efforts will help school communities reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution, an ACPS spokesperson said. Bicycle and pedestrian safety programs, bike rodeos, Walk to School Days and other school events will help encourage and educate students to increase their fitness levels.
According to the school system, the nine schools participating in the program include Charles Barrett, George Mason, Matthew Maury, Mount Vernon, James K. Polk, William Ramsay and Samuel W. Tucker elementary schools and the Francis C. Hammond and George Washington middle school campuses.
Safe Walking Maps for schools will be generated with the City of Alexandria using geographic information system technology. Schools were asked to submit school travel plans to show their commitment toward being a part of the team effort of making the Safe Routes program a success.
Wednesday marked the first day that schools took part in International Walk to School Day activities when about 450 students from Mount Vernon Community School walked to school along with parents, teachers and community leaders.
George Mason also kicked off its eight-week Walking Wednesdays program last Wednesday. Polk will participate in Walk to School Day on October 7.
In the United States, International Walk to School Day in October is expected to include 5,000 schools from all 50 states. U.S. walkers will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world.