Help your kids celebrate International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 2

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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. 2, is International Walk (Or Bike) To School Day, and Sitka parents and teachers are encouraged to help their schoolchildren safely walk or bike 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, a health educator with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “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.

Why wearing white is not enough.

Reflective 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. Parents can buy reflective tape from local sporting goods, fabric, and similar stores. Sometimes it’s available from local health organizations. The Center for Safe Alaskans (formerly known as the Alaska Injury Prevention Center) produced a YouTube video (also embedded below) that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see, and will have some free reflective tape available starting in October 2019.

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.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the morning of Thursday, Sept. 19

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 19. (NOTE: This is a time change from the past hikes.) Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Indian River Trail 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 or twice 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.

In addition to the hike event on Sept. 19, SAIL will offer two more activities for seniors in September. From 10-11 a.m. on all Tuesdays starting Sept. 3, SAIL will join the Senior Walking Hours event from 10-11 a.m. at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center. From 9:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 12, there will be a senior fishing event at a location TBA. This event costs $5 and a fishing license is required. Fishing poles will be provided.

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 Anna Hennessey at 747-6859 or email her at ahennessey@sailinc.org. The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for September 2019

Boys Run: I Toowú Klatseen program recruiting coaches, young runners for Fall 2019 season

The Boys Run: I toowú klatseen program is recruiting boys in third through fifth grade for its Fall 2019 season. The program also is looking for male and female coaches to help teach the young boys how to be good runners and better men.

The Boys Run: I toowú klatseen program, which means “strengthen your spirit”, is a mentorship program for young boys coordinated by Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), with similar programs in Sitka, Juneau, and Kake. The program teaches boys healthy social and emotional skills through running and envisions boys growing up into healthy members of society. It is modeled after the Girls On The Run program, which meets in the spring.

The registration period for young boys ends on Friday, Sept. 13. Parents can register their boys at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School, or they can register online at https://boysrun.org/register-a-boy.

Southeast Alaska Native cultural values have been intentionally incorporated into the program in each lesson, and we use running as a vehicle for games and fun activities. The 10-week program ends with a community five-kilometer fun run, teaching boys they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
What coaching entails:

  • Practices are held twice a week from 2:15-4:30 p.m., on either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. It starts near the end of September and goes until mid December.
  • There is a mandatory coach training from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, and coaching applications are due by Monday, Sept. 9..
  • You do not have to be a runner to coach.
  • There is a set curriculum and lesson plans and all the supplies you need will be provided for you.

If you are interested in coaching, please contact Samantha “Sam” O’Brien of SAFV at sobrien@safv.org or call 747-3489. If you are interested in registering a boy, contact Sam or ask for Mrs. Twaddle at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

Sitka Trail Works to host annual meeting and potluck on Monday, Sept. 16

Sitka Trail Works members and the public are cordially invited to attend the annual meeting and potluck. The meeting will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The agenda includes highlights from the year. This year’s guest speaker will be Bill Foster giving a talk, “Destination Havana – The 60th Anniversary of a Bike Trip to Cuba.” Also, two board members are up for re-election.

Please bring a main dish, side, or dessert to share. Please also bring your own cutlery and plate, if possible. Those with questions may call Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244.