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Cassie David-Shannon walks with her daughters, Kaida, center, and Sadie on the first day of school in Auburn.

National Walk Your Child to School Day is Wednesday, Oct. 4. This year, Auburn elementary schools will be participating for the 15th consecutive year. In Moravia, this will be Millard Fillmore Elementary School’s first year participating in this national observance.

Each year, parents and caregivers walk with their students to school and teach them safe pedestrian skills. This year, the Cayuga County Health Department’s Bicycle, Pedestrian and Wheel Sport Safety grant will emphasize safety to students and parents who walk to school. They will have the opportunity to plan their safest route to school with a town or district map of school boundaries.

Students and parents will receive the maps before the event to allow time to plot, draw or color the safest route to school. Participants can use the maps to trace the path of safe travel and plan for well-maintained walkways, pedestrian crosswalks, curb ramps and traffic signals from home to school. Students and parents can also pick a route to plan for crossing guards, traffic-calming strategies and enforcement efforts.

By walking to school, parents and students can eliminate the traffic congestion and pollution near schools at the start and dismissal time of school. Knowing which route is safest for children to travel can instill a lifelong skill that promotes health and safety.

Students should return the completed Safe Route to School Map at school on the day of the event to receive a colored Rules of the Roadway safety ruler and a farm-fresh apple from Owen Orchards.

The event is being sponsored by the Cayuga County Health Department, Auburn Teachers Association, Auburn Police Department and the Cayuga Community Health Network.

Always remember to:

• Obey all traffic signs and signals

• Avoid busy, high-speed or multi lane roads

• Use red crosswalks and school crossing guards

• Choose sidewalks and paths whenever possible

Kimberly Abate is the senior public health educator for the Cayuga County Health Department and the coordinator for the Cayuga County Cancer Services Program.