County Executive Ike Leggett recently joined parents, teachers, and children around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day at East Silver Spring Elementary School (ESS). The annual event promotes safer streets, healthier lifestyles and cleaner air. Leggett was joined by Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (center), Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, and other dignitaries. Approximately 30 other schools across the County celebrated the day with various activities.
East Silver Spring was the first school in the County to hold a Walk to School Day celebration back in 1999. William Smith, a legally blind parent, was the impetus behind the event and for Maryland’s designation of walking as the state exercise. He’s an advocate for pedestrian safety and was a guest of honor at the celebration.
ESS is also promoting healthy eating, exercise and life styles. The school was adopted by Whole Foods, which helped students plant and maintain a garden in the courtyard. Whole Foods’ “Chef Egg” offered a very popular once-a-week after-school cooking class. And, an after-school “walking club” helped ESS students get more exercise and prepare for the Takoma Park Safe Routes to School 5K Challenge, in which hundreds of students and parents participated.
Montgomery County is upgrading safety at schools, thanks in part to the federal Safe Routes to School program created in 2005. The program provides funding communities can use to retrofit roads and create sidewalks and bike paths that allow children to safely walk or bike to school. Funding also supports enforcement and education campaigns.
For more information, visit MCDOT's pedestrian safety website or call the Office of Community Outreach at 240-777-7155.