by Lisa Tome
For the first time, Cecil County set aside a day to educate children how to walk safely to school.
On October 4, National Walk to School Day, Captain Holly Trego from Cecil's Department of Emergency Services and School Resource Officer DFC Stavros Plagianakos worked to educate children at two schools about safely making their way to and from school. The grant funded program provided educational materials and the short program at both Elk Neck and Perryville elementary schools.
It was badly needed, explained Elk Neck principal Karen Adair. "We have about 30 children that walk to school (or are driven by parents). The community we are in doesn't really have sidewalks. The kids need to know the safety precautions," said Adair.
"We want to teach healthy behaviors to children walking to and from school," said Trego. "They need to take an extra step and think before they take an action."
The lessons included looking both ways before crossing a street, making eye contact with drivers so they see walkers, and avoiding use of cell phones and iPods while walking. "Drivers need to focus and you need to focus," explained Trego.
With Halloween on the horizon, Trego also said that children under 10 need to walk with an adult. She also suggested reflective tape on clothing. Trego also explained bluntly, how to not get hit by a car and the seven ways an accident is most likely to occur.
In addition to the fun lecture, the children also received takeaway goods. Younger children received a safety book featuring Clifford the big red dog. Older children received pencils, a glow in the dark toggle to clip on to provide visibility, and more.
Three parents of children who walk to school at Perryville Elementary also attended the program. Additionally, since children sometimes ride bicycles to school, Trego provided bike helmets to children at both schools that didn't have them.