Students learn about safety, health of activity

A midday rain Wednesday did not stop local student from learning valuable lessons during the International Walk to School Day — which are keeping safe and staying healthy.

The Wapakoneta Middle School students participated in a International Walk to School Day in the gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon. The students were supposed to take a lap around Harmon Field, but the rain moved them inside. Despite the move, the students still listened to an array of speakers.

“This is a great event,” Wapakoneta Mayor Rodney Metz said. “This is a great way to get the word out to the kids, and for them to learn the correct safety information. It’s safety and health all around.”

This event, which is a community-wide effort between several businesses and the city, gave tips on how to be safe while walking and riding bikes, not only to school, but around the city, and the health benefits of keeping active.

“Some people say they don’t want to run because they have bad knees,” Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Rehab Manager Matt Dwenger said, “but the worse thing is not doing anything at all.”

Dwenger stressed to the students that even doing something small each day can lead to major health benefits.

“If you do 10 push-ups and decide to do them every day, then you will have done over 3,000 push-ups by the end of the year,” Dwenger said.

Keeping active, whether it be walking, biking or playing sports, can help keep away obesity and diabetes, and help lead to a healthy lifestyle.

“Hopefully when you are in your 80s and 90s, you will live an active lifestyle,” Dwenger said. “I don’t expect you to be world class athletes, but just try to do a little something everyday.”

Wapakoneta Police Lt. Jeff Eisert talked to the students on safety while riding bikes and walking to school.

“Whenever there is a sidewalk available, please use it,” Eisert said. “If there is no sidewalk available, walk facing the cars, and walk as close to the curb as you can.”

Eisert told the students to be predictable while walking or riding bikes.

“Don’t ride in the middle or swerve back and forth,” Eisert said. “Be predictable and stay on the side of the road, where drivers will expect you to stay.”

He also discussed only cross streets in crosswalks, because that is where cars expect to see you.

“When you ride bikes, ride in the same direction with the cars,” Eisert said. “All cars are supposed to obey the traffic signs and you should, too.”

He noted children are allowed to ride on the sidewalks. They should wear helmets and use hand signals while riding bikes.

Wapakoneta City Council Councilor-at-large and Health and Safety Committee Chair Tom Finkelmeier emceed the event and said that this is the second year for the local community to host a Walk to School Day, which became an international event in 2000.

The city was involved in the event as part of being awarded money through the Safe Routes to School grant funds last year to install sidewalks and make other safety improvements.

Finkelmeier expressed that sidewalks provide safety for the students who walk and ride their bikes to school.

The whole purpose of the International Walk to School is a movement to promote health and safety for the children.

The Wapakoneta High School cheerleaders, Safety Pup and Ronald McDonald were all in attendance to help pump the kids up on safety and health.