Students in parts of southwest Riverside County will soon be learning the benefits of walking and biking to school through a program that also encourages traffic safety.
The Riverside County Department of Public Health was recently awarded funding through the federal Safe Routes to School program to serve the cities and schools in Wildomar, Lake Elsinore and Menifee, and a school in Romoland. Funding was also approved to create or expand Safe Routes programs in Riverside, Thousand Palms, Cathedral City, Thermal, Desert Hot Springs and Mecca.
The awards totaled about $1.25 million.
The county operated program has been in place for years, although this is the first time it will be expanded to portions of Southwest Riverside County.
“The health and safety of our young people is a top priority and the Safe Routes to School program reflects that philosophy through education and physical fitness,” said Susan Harrington, acting director of the Community Health Agency.
The department will work with school officials, city representatives and community organizations and start the program in time for the 2012-2013 school year.
“This will be a collaborative effort and will involve community members, the public and private sector,” Harrington said.
The elements of the Southwest Riverside County program include:
- Conducting Safe Routes To School workshops for school and community organizations.
- Piloting a regional bicycle ambassador program.
- Participating and organizing Health and Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Outreach Events.
- Organizing annual Walk To School Day events and annual Bike To School events.
- Organizing and convening a Western Riverside County Safe Routes To School Coalition.
- Providing fun, interactive, age-appropriate pedestrian and bicycle safety education at targeted schools.
The program targets low-income schools with high rates of pedestrian and bicycle injuries and fatalities among students between 5 and 15.
The following is a list of schools funded for Safe Routes to School program:
Lake Elsinore Unified School District: Elsinore Elementary (Lake Elsinore), Machado Elementary (Lake Elsinore), Elsinore Middle School (Lake Elsinore), Wildomar Elementary (Wildomar), William Collier Elementary (Wildomar), Ronald Reagan Elementary (Wildomar).
Menifee Union School District: Quail Valley Elementary (Menifee), Chester Morrison Elementary (Menifee).
Romoland Elementary School District: Romoland Elementary (Menifee) and Boulder Ridge Middle School (Menifee).
Palm Springs Unified School District: Bubbling Wells Elementary (Desert Hot Springs), Della Lindley Elementary (Thousand Palms), Rio Vista Elementary (Cathedral City), Landau Elementary (Cathedral City), Cathedral City Elementary (Cathedral City), Nellie Coffman Middle School (Cathedral City).
Coachella Valley Unified School District: Mecca Elementary (Mecca), Saul Martinez Elementary (Mecca), Toro Canyon Middle School (Thermal), Las Palmitas Elementary (Thermal), John Kelley Elementary (Thermal).
Riverside Unified School District: Adams Elementary (Riverside).
Alvord Unified School District: Rosemary Kennedy Elementary (Riverside), Twinhill Elementary (Riverside), McAuliffe Elementary (Riverside).
~Courtesy of Riverside County Department of Public Health