The City of Sparks had nice weather for the eighth annual Nevada Moves initiative in which nine participating Washoe County School District schools promoted heathy recreational activities like walking and bicycling to school.
“This event is an important part of our outreach effort to our 64,000 students and staff members,” said WCSD School Police Officer MJ Cloud. “Everyone can benefit from more physical activity, so this is a great reminder that warmer weather is on its way and it’s time to get out and enjoy it. Walking or biking to school helps keep our air cleaner and reduce traffic congestion near our schools.”
On March 13, Jerry Whitehead Elementary School in Sparks hosted a special “Walk and Bike to School” event where students and families gathered at Pah Rah Park from four different directions for a short safety assembly before walking and biking to the school together.
“We had the Chief of Police and representatives from the RTC (Regional Transportation Commission), Safe Kids, Renown and our motorcade there,” says Cloud. She added that 91 students who participated in the Jerry Whitehead Elementary School event were treated to a short safety assembly, obstacle courses and other fitness activities on their way to and during school.
Administrators shared safety tips over the intercom about crossing the street, wearing protective gear when biking, and relayed rhymes that the kids can easily learn and remember like “Wear Bright at Night” so that they understand the importance of safety when playing outdoors.
The event at Jerry Whitehead Elementary School was especially important for students as there are a few construction zones in that area on the way to school, like new drainage ditches being installed to alleviate any potential flooding and fix past storm damage. Cloud says that kids walking and biking to school need to learn how to safely traverse through those challenging areas.
Three schools in the WCSD participated in specific “Walk and Bike to School” days but the other six schools did different activities throughout the week. The schools handed out pencils, T-shirts, and other supplies further promoting and reminding kids about Nevada Moves. Officer Cloud says that the number of families in this program has remained consistent throughout the last few years and she’s happy to see a growing number of schools willing to get involved.
“This is not a mandatory program with the WCSD, so it’s been a total act of principal participation at each individual school,” she says. “(Jerry Whitehead) Principal Kelly Dominguez is very community and safety conscious and dedicated to keeping her students active.”
The WCSD hopes that by celebrating Nevada Moves Day, the whole family will be encouraged to become more active in their everyday lives. “Nevada Moves is about getting kids moving, and it comes full-circle because if you get more kids walking and biking then there are less vehicles in the school zones which means there’s less of a chance of pedestrian-vehicle incidents. And with less vehicles on the road we have improved air quality, so it’s truly a community effort.”
The WCSD also participates in the annual “Bike to School” week held nationally in mid-May with details to be announced.