LIHUE — Bev Body of Get Fit Kauai was almost speechless by the sight that greeted her Thursday morning in the parking lot of Ace Hardware.
More than 330 students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade collected in the coolness of the morning sun to participate in the first Walk to School Day presented by Elsie Wilcox Elementary School.
“I’m shaking,” Brody said. “I never expected anything like this. I thought we might have about half this amount of students and parents. When I drove into the parking lot and saw all these people — whoa! I just don’t know what to say.”
The effort of getting the students to school was a collaborative one, with help from more than 50 volunteers, including the school staff and the county.
“With so many residential units located around the school and in close proximity, we have a lot of students who can walk to school,” said Principal Cory Nakamura. “This Walk to School Day gets students and parents familiar with the safe routes they can use to get from their homes to school.”
Kauai County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura and Rep. James Tokioka were among the elected officials on hand for the walk.
“Participating in a program like this makes us understand just how good the program is,” Yukimura said.
Brody said the benefits of walking (before school starts) was enjoyed by more than half of the 800-plus students who attend Wilcox School. Many students who could not make the Ace Hardware drop-off or caught buses still walked for at least 30 minutes on the pre-designated course at the school to be eligible for incentives.
“Walking the routes with the students, you get to see some of the issues that need to be addressed,” Nakamura said. “Already, I can point out several things that need work. But in the end, this just proves that students can walk to school safely.”
As students crowded the monitors to check in, Brody noticed the school crossing guards who dutifully guided cars and school buses through the drop-off point.
“They need something to do,” Brody said. “They’re like the Maytag repairmen. They have nothing to do. They want something to do. With the spirit of the school, anything is possible.”