First, second and third graders will learn how to safely get around the community

    A partnership between Polk County Public Health and Highland and Cathedral schools, “WALK!BIKE!FUN!” will kick off on Wednesday, May 15, and be followed by sessions on May 17, 20 and 22.

    PCPH Director Sarah Reese describes the initiative as a “comprehensive curriculum that teaches safe traffic behavior to keep kids safe, active and healthy through short lessons.” The curriculum, she adds, was developed by and is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Bicycle Alliance of MN and Blue Cross/Blue Shield Minnesota.

    Reese said she’s been planning WALK!BIKE!FUN with Sarah Pester, Heidi Biermaier and Laurie Erickson. Ninety-minute sessions for first, second and third graders will be divided into three, 30-minute sessions.

    The timing of the sessions, near the end of the school year, is important, Reese said.

     “We purposefully chose the end of the school year. School will be letting out for summer and young people will be mobile throughout the community. Whether walking with family members or friends, learning basic pedestrian safety may help prevent injuries and prepare children for a lifetime of safe walking,” she explained. “Preventing pedestrian injuries requires a combination of approaches - engineering strategies to improve the physical environment for walking, enforcement strategies to reduce vehicle speeds and increase driver yielding to pedestrianas, and education strategies to increase safety skills for walkers.

    In the curriculum designed for children in grades 1 to 3, Reese said the children will learn how to walk safely near traffic, cross the street at a crosswalk and safely cross the street around visual barriers or where there is crossing signals.