Students get lesson in safety, exercise with Firefighters Walk
ROYAL OAK — For many students, the morning walk to school has never had the production or message that it did Oct. 3 at Oak Ridge Elementary.
About 500 people attended last Wednesday’s 11th annual Firefighters Walk to School, which traveled from the Walgreens on 12 Mile, north on Rochester Road, to the elementary school on 13 Mile. Parents, Royal Oak firefighters and even Detroit Pistons mascot Hooper were all in attendance.
“It was pretty good. It was raining a lot in the morning and it cleared up in time for us to have our walk,” said firefighter Cary Thompson, a 14-year Royal Oak veteran who coordinated the event. “They love it. The kids were smiling. We just want to try to remind the drivers to watch out for the kids walking to school.”
The annual walk had two important messages. The first was to make all community members aware of pedestrian safety. The second was to promote daily outdoor exercise for 30-60 minutes per day.
“Obesity is a big problem in the United States,” Thompson said. “When I was a child, we walked everywhere, to the store or the movies. Not a lot of people walk anymore. We want to make sure they grow up to be good, strong members of the community.”
Oak Ridge Principal Jason Parrott said the students are thrilled when the event rolls around each year, featuring fire trucks and the Fire Department’s mascot, Sparky the Dalmatian.
“The students showed a lot of enthusiasm and really seemed to enjoy themselves,” Parrott said via email. “As always, the kids get a big kick out of having Hooper and the other mascots there when they are available. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”
Parrott added that community events like these are especially impressionable on the elementary students.
“It is nice to have the support of the ROFD to ensure the students’ safety and promote healthy lifestyle choices,” Parrot said via email. “Anytime we can partner with the community, we like to do so. The students get to see other public safety personnel and heroes in our community, and the firefighters get to interact with our fabulous students.”
Students completed the 7:45 a.m. walk in time to make it to breakfast at the school before class began at 8:30 a.m.
“The school has breakfast waiting for them,” Thompson said. “We’re grateful to the community for all the support. We started it so long ago. It’s just been a fantastic event.”