EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Full of energy and positivity, about 50 students and parents from Frost Elementary School began their Field Day yesterday with a brisk walk from Great Oak Park. Frost Principal Loretta Payette said of the "use your own energy" initiative, "There is no better way to start off field day than with a little more activity. We are getting the mind and body ready for a great day of learning."
Chris Gonda, the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, joined former East Brunswick Mayor Bill Neary, Executive Director of Keep Middlesex Moving, to foster a renewed in interest in walking or biking safely to school. NJ Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a statewide initiative to enable and encourage students to safely walk and bicycle to school. The vision of SRTS is the development of a culture and environment where walking and bicycling to school is safer, more appealing, and a part of daily life for students throughout New Jersey.
"There are other options to riding a bus or a car drop-off to school, " said Gonda, who supports "safer walkability." He sees Safe Routes to School as a health and wellness initiative, too. "We are trying to make walking more attractive and to get kids moving and feeling safe outdoors."
Safe Roads to School is also supported by the Voorhees Transportation Center at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University where Gonda is a student. University programs are reviewing school locations and their safe walkability in suburbia where distance is not always a factor influencing whether or not a student walks or bikes to school, but safety is.
Currently working on plans to increase a variety of transportation options in the township, Mayor Brad Cohen was also at Great Oak Park to support the event: "We are lucky to have had a picture-perfect day to support this option for kids and to promote healthy lifestyles. It's also important to support walking from a traffic and environmental standpoint. Adults need to demonstrate their support by their actions and take a walk, too."
"I hope this program gets some legs," Cohen quipped. The Mayor, who is also a physician and surgeon, went on to note the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, especially for children.
BOE member Chad Seyler, a Frost parent, also joined in the walk, saying, "It's great to see so many friends from Frost School starting off this day of activity." Yesterday was also Field Day at Frost, pitting the green team against the white team. Students in the walk were proudly displaying their team colors.
Students and parents were also supported in the walk by Superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski, Police Chief James Conroy and members of the East Brunswick Police who escorted the walkers on motorcycles to their destination.