Many children walk or bike to school every day.

But on Wednesdays, Margate students can win a pizza party for their class.

Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of International Walk to School Day. Several local schools celebrated by holding group walks that promoted the healthy benefits and safety precautions children should take.

For the third year, Margate plans to continue weekly Walking Wednesdays. Each class will track how many students walked or biked that day. At the end of the year, the winning class will get a pizza party.

Superintendent John DiNicola said since Margate buses only students from Longport and some special-education students, almost all students walk, bike or get a ride each day.

“We will see more of the middle school students walk, but sometimes they will drop younger siblings off at the Ross School first,” he said. “We have bunch of kids who ride bikes.”

While parents may accompany some students, DiNicola said, for the older students, the walk gives them a sense of independence.

The state Safe Routes to School program promotes school and community efforts to promote walking and provide safe pathways.

Districts have received awards from the group for their progress, including Absecon, Egg Harbor City, Somers Point, Galloway Township, Hammonton, Woodbine and the South Main Street School in Pleasantville and the Wallace and Rossi Schools in Vineland.

Many of those districts do not provide busing, so ensuring safe walking routes is important.

About 75 Woodbine students participated Wednesday in a “walking school bus.” Groups of students and parents met at a central location and walked together.

The walk was a family affair in Stone Harbor, where about 50 students, parents and grandparents met and walked to school together.

Students and some parents in Egg Harbor City met at the municipal recreation field and walked across the pedestrian bridge that leads to the district schools.

Egg Harbor City Community School Principal Jack Griffith said they had a short party at arrival today, playing music and giving out reflective zipper pulls and bracelets.

“We also promote being safe and following the crossing guards’ instruction,” Griffith said.

He said most students do walk or bike each day, but it does depend on the weather.

“We will see more cars if the weather is bad,” he said.

Contact:

609-272-7241 DDamico@pressofac.com @ACPressDamico

More than 40 years at The Press in writing and editing positions.

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