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OCPS students grab life by the handlebars on Bike to School Day

Students across Orange County showed that bicycling and walking to school is cool on National Bike to School Day, Wednesday, May 9.  Best Foot Forward (BFF) coalition partners Healthy Central Florida, Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive and Sheriff’s Office, City of Maitland officials and Orlando Health participated with Orange County Public School to encourage and share safe bicycling and walking habits with students, parents and staff.

Maitland Mayor Dale McDonald, who walked to school with Lake Sybelia students, reminisced that he enjoyed riding his bicycle a mile-and-a-half to school when growing up in Ocala, saying, “I really enjoyed it. It helped me get to know and understand the community better and have them know me as well.” He added that the Walking School Bus provides the same opportunity for Lake Sybelia Elementary students and gives the kids a chance to bond with each other and people in their neighborhood. “Neighbors get used to seeing the same kids come by every day.”

About a dozen kids met at Homer-Hough Park to join Lake Sybelia’s Walking School Bus, led by Principal John Dobbs, volunteers and parents. Many wore bright blue Lake Sybelia Elementary t-shirts to show their school spirit. Maitland Police Chief David Manuel and another officer walked with the group, as well as Maitland Mayor McDonald and Councilwoman Joy Goff-Marcil – who started the Walking School Bus six-years ago at Lake Sybelia.

Later in the day, Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive fitted helmets on about 60 Conway Elementary students with help from Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orlando Health and Bike/Walk Central Florida. Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke had asked Walk-Ride-Thrive and other BFF coalition partners to work with the school to provide helmets after the tragic death of 8-year-old Jeff The, who was struck by a truck on Conway Rd. & Michigan Ave. in March.

“The kids and parents are so happy to get these helmets,” a crossing guard and grandfather to one of the students told a BFF representative. “I’ll make sure they are wearing them!”

Other highlights included:

  • Glenridge Middle School Band greeted Walkers ‘n Rollers from three “walking school buses” at Baldwin Park Elementary School.
  • Maitland Middle School held the inaugural student cycling group 1.3-mile bike ride for National Bike to School Day.
  • Brookshire Elementary School students took escorted rides to Glenridge Middle School with the School Resource Officer in a patrol car and the Winter Park Police bike patrol on May 3, 4 and 7.
  • Aloma Elementary hosted a Walk n’ Roll event and gave out helmets to students in need.
  • Dommerich Elementary held several bike events through April into May, students and are learning BikeSafe curriculum in P.E. On Bike to School Day, all students who biked, walked or rode the bus to lessen the number of cars on the road received a special incentive.

Check out some great photos from the day’s events on our Flickr page.

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