Help your kids celebrate International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 4

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WalkToSchoolDay_HomepageMapNot too long ago, most of us walked or biked to school. But now, most kids arrive at school via their parents’ cars or school buses. Wednesday, Oct. 4, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren walk to school on this day.

In 1970, more than half of all elementary school students ages 6-11 walked to school. By 2006, only 15 percent were walking to school. Alarmed by this trend, a group called the Partnership for a Walkable America started National Walk To School Day in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. In addition to expanding into several other countries, the dates also have expanded and October is International Walk To School Month.

“Walking or biking to school is an excellent way to add some physical activity into your day,” said Doug Osborne, Sitka Community Hospital Director of Health Promotion. “It can be a great way to start the day. Walking or biking can be a lot of fun. It’s also important to remember to be safe.”

WBTSD_12inch_ColorWalking or biking to school with their children is a good way for parents to catch up on what’s happening in their children’s lives. Other benefits to walking or biking to school include less traffic, cleaner air, and friendlier communities. Walking with their children is a good way for parents see if there are things along the route that can be done to improve safety, such as improving lighting, checking crosswalks and watching for aggressive pets along the route.

International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day is a great teaching tool for safety. Parents and teachers can teach the kids about road safety rules and the importance of being visible when they walk or bike alongside the roads. They also can check their kids’ clothes and backpacks to make sure they have reflective tape on them.

Reflectors Save Lives posterReflective tape is particularly important as we enter the dark months of the winter. Students need to Be Safe, Be Seen, and reflective tape can make a big difference in their visibility. Not only are kids sometimes hard to be seen because they’re blocked by cars, but many cars in Southeast Alaska experience condensation problems during the fall and winter that make it hard to see through windshields. Reflective tape and blinking lights can make it so kids are seen hundreds of feet before they would be if they wore plain dark clothes. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center’s pedestrian safety program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

To learn more about International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, contact your local school to see if any events are scheduled, or check with the Alaska Safe Routes To School program. The official International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day website also has a lot of information about how to set up an event for your school, including tool kits to help you arrange an event. Even if your kids don’t walk the entire way to school, you can drop them off a mile or so away and walk in with them. Many parents create walking school buses to bring several students who live in the same area to school together in one group.

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Sitka National Historical Park to host quarterly Park Prescriptions prize drawing on Sept. 30

The next quarterly Park Prescriptions Program drawing will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center.

Participants are reminded to submit their punch cards to a ranger at Sitka National Historical Park’s visitor center by 3 p.m. on Frida,y Sept. 29, to be eligible for the drawing. This drawing includes three cash prizes provided by Sitka Community Hospital Foundation. The prizes will be awarded as checks, and will either be mailed to the winners, or will be available for pick up at the Sitka Community Hospital.

The Park Prescriptions Program promotes health and wellness by encouraging Sitkans to recreate within their national park. Park Prescriptions was a Sitka Health Summit project that started as a partnership between the park and local medical providers, who prescribed hikes around the park to their patients. Now people can self-prescribe the hikes, and turn in their completed punch cards to win prizes. Quarterly drawings are held by the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation. Eligible participants who have completed their punch card are eligible to win cash prizes.

To participate, stop by the park’s visitor center, or the Sitka Community Hospital to pick up a punch card or contact Ryan Carpenter at 747-0121 or at ryan_p_carpenter@nps.gov for more information.

If you have questions, please call the park’s visitor center at 747-0110.​

Sitka National Historical Park reminds Sitkans to walk bikes through park, keep dogs leashed

Sitka National Historical Park has recently experienced an increase of individuals riding bicycles on park trails and dogs off-leash within park boundaries, which are violations of park regulations. These situations cause safety hazards for other park users hiking on the same trail system, as well as for wildlife within the park.

The National Park Service reminds the public that it is prohibited to ride bicycles anywhere in the park, and dogs must be on-leash at all times in the park, including on the tidelands.

The majority of these violations appear to be occurring in the morning and evening hours as individuals commute to and from work or school, or recreate outside of their work hours. Rangers will be increasing their patrols for violators and will be taking the appropriate law enforcement action, which may include the issuance of a United States Violation Notice in the amount of $75 (plus $35 processing fee) for riding bikes, $50 (plus $35 processing fee) for dogs off-leash, and $300 (plus $35 processing fee) for harassment of wildlife.

Questions or concerns regarding park regulations can be directed to Chief Law Enforcement Ranger Sean Brennan at 907-747-0127 or sean_brennan@nps.gov.​

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 21

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 1-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Blue Lake Road trailhead.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Clare Kelly at 747-6859 or email her at ckelly@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for September 2017