While there’s sure to be plenty of candy passed around, students at New Haven elementary schools will celebrate Valentine’s Day a little differently.
On Monday morning, students at , , and elementary schools will participate in the Healthy Hearts Walk and Roll to School Day, a program that encourages students to walk or ride bicycles, scooters and skateboards to school.
The activity is held in conjunction with Safe Routes to School, a nationwide movement that promotes safe and healthy alternatives to driving and bussing to school.
“It’s Valentine’s Day. It’s a great time to be talking about a healthy heart and a healthy body and how walking and bicycling is part of a healthy lifestyle,” said Carrie Harvilla, an Alameda County Safe Routes to School site coordinator who works with .
Children require a variety of physical activities each day, Harvilla said. “Walking or rolling to and from school is an ideal way to get some of that activity, at no extra cost to your child or family," she said.
Safe Routes to School was implemented in Alameda County in 2006 by TransForm, a Bay Area public transportation and walkable communities advocacy group. The organization has since worked with more than 60 elementary and middle schools.
According to Harvilla, Safe Routes to School began working with New Haven last spring when school transportation was . They’ve collaborated with the district on a number of programs, including “walking busses.”
“Imagine a car pool, but on foot,” Harvilla said.
In each “bus,” a trained parent volunteer will pick up and drop off children along mapped-out routes to make sure they get to and from school safely, Harvilla said.
Safe Routes offers programs for Alameda County elementary and middle schools for free. Their goal is to encourage these activities on regular basis, Harvilla said.
Many New Haven schools participated in National Walk and Roll Day in October, with Searles Elementary participating in Healthy Hearts Day on Feb. 8.
The programs are not just for children, Harvilla said.
“For parents, it’s also quality time with their kids and it’s exercise for them,” Harvilla said. “It’s a real community activity.”