Raiderettes Itza and Anna at Walk and Roll to School Day at Braly Elementary School. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Recently, Raiderettes Anna, Melissa, Maureen, Nicole, Courtney, Caitlin, Leia, Itza, Heather and Giselle, cheered on students as they arrived at Braly Elementary School in Sunnyvale, Calif., for Walk and Roll to School Day. Braly was one of the thousands of schools nationwide and abroad participating in International Walk and Bike to School Day.
The goal of the program, as stated in the event's press release, is "to raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling, and to emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, and concern for the environment. In addition, the events build connections between families, schools and the broader community."
The program was organized by Traffic Safe Communities Network of Santa Clara County as part of their Safe Routes to School program initiatives. "Safe Routes to School promotes walking and biking to school for a variety of reasons, including health, improvement of the environment, academic performance, safety around the schools, [and] increased traffic safety," said Safe Routes to School Coordinator Alice Kawaguchi. "So it's a perfect program and it's easy to do for the kids, just walking and biking. It has a lot of great benefits."
The Raiderettes greeted the students as they walked and biked to school. "We came today to support the kids that walked to school, rode their bikes and some even on scooters and cheered them on as they came to school today," said Raiderette Anna.
The students were high energy. "It was fun," said Raiderette Anna. "They were super excited, especially the big Raider fans, some of them came dressed up in their jerseys and t-shirts, so they were super excited. All the kids seemed to be really energetic and in a good mood. So walking to school has proven to be a good thing."
Braly Elementary's Principal Miakje Kamstra was excited to have such a great turnout for Walk and Roll to School Day. "Today we had an incredible day," said Principal Kamstra. "We had the Raiderettes, we had Sharkie visiting us, we had a huge promotion for the kids that walked and biked to school today. Each of them received a cool pair of shades for actually walking or biking to school. Those kids that could not participate in it, we set up a walking school bus where we met at a park nearby the school and we had a little train of kids that were walking over to school."
The students' day continued with a fun, upbeat assembly. "We had a big assembly where we had Dr. [Bobbie] Plough, our Superintendent, giving a special message to the kids about health of walking or biking to school," continued Principal Kamstra. "We were really delighted because we got to meet the Mayor [of Sunnyvale Tony Spitaleri] and he came over and he said some nice words to the kids."
Raiderettes Anna and Itza spoke to the students about the importance of walking to school and helmet safety. "We told them that walking to school is good for their health and to wear helmets and to wear them correctly so that they can be safe," said Raiderette Anna.
Kawaguchi was thrilled to have the Raiderettes at Braly Elementary. "We're so glad to have the Raiderettes here because the kids listen to them, are enthusiastic because of their enthusiasm so we're really happy they were here," said Kawaguchi. "And they were perfect with the health message and the helmet safety message."
The Raiderettes added an element of excitement to International Walk and Bike to School Day. "It was amazing," said Prinicipal Kamstra. "The kids were so excited when they heard [the Raiderettes] were coming. And just having [their] presence and having an elite, very fit, group of women that exemplify the message we're trying to send today in terms of health, taking care of yourself, are active, well-spoken…Then just the pizzazz factor too. What it does for the kids is it creates a lasting memory, an image that they can take with them. We can say, 'you should walk to school, you should bike to school,' but [with the Raiderettes] cheering them on, it's something they will remember."
The Raiderettes had fun interacting with the students and encouraging them to walk and bike to school and do so safely. They hope their presence motivated the students to walk and bike a few extra days each week.