The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Improving Lives, Communities and the Economy

Santa Cruz Safe Routes to School - Impact story

Safe Routes to School

Nogales kids and parents are lacing up their shoes and hitting the streets, taking the family fitness challenge.

UACE, Santa Cruz County Cooperative Extension's Safe Routes to School Program brings parents and schoolchildren together to exercise and learn about road safety and nutrition.

The program offers special days to walk or bike to school, bike rodeos, fitness challenges and nutrition education.

Maria Barcelo and her children, Lorenzo, 11, and José, 9, enjoy walking to their neighborhood school, Lincoln Elementary.

"It's good for them to walk and learn how to take care of themselves," Barcelo said.

Lincoln principal Dr. Lucina Romero said about 80 students and parents turn out for the special walk-to-school days four times a year, with a breakfast of yogurt, granola and fruit following the half-mile walk.

"It's a great thing for parents to do with their children," Romero said. "They see we walk the talk."

Mayra Zuniga participates with daughter, Dominique, a third-grader. "It's a fun way to get the morning started," she said.

Michelle Osuña, 11, walks with friends and family. "It helps you grow and be stronger."

Jeannette Ayala walks with her children, Ezveidi, 11, Janice, 9 and Mahir, 5. "It helps us to get more active as a family."

Said Ezveidi, "We're always walking to school now and it gives you energy."

Mom Karla Romero said the program makes families aware of how much fun exercising together – whether walking, biking or playing basketball - can be.

"With all the video games and TV, I think we've forgotten what it's like to go out and play," she said. "I'm aware of how good I feel after walking."

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