ALPINE — When kids head out the door to walk to school, parents often worry about dangers on the roads. One Utah elementary school received national recognition Wednesday for making sure its students have safe routes.
"Alpine, Utah, embodied everything the safe routes to school is all about," said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, as she prepared to award Alpine Elementary.
The school, its students and parents worked hard to improve the safety of routes to school for walking and biking. Now, they're a national example for other schools after receiving the James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award.
For three years, Alpine has encouraged students to walk or ride bikes, rather than get a ride from mom or dad. Fewer cars lead to less traffic and a safer environment for students on foot.
"They tried to make it safer for children to walk or bike to school," said Marchetti. "They encouraged more students to walk or bike to school, and they also did it with heart."
In the last year, students logged more than 40,000 miles walking and biking to school. Walking and biking rates went from 35 percent to 50 percent in one year.
"That's impressive," said the national director of the program.
Students also raised enough money through donations to pay for three months' worth of lunches for their sister school, Candle Light School in Nairobi, Kenya.
Alpine received federal grants for new speed-limit signs, the new trail and better bicycle storage. The city of Alpine pitched in $125,000 in labor and materials.
"It's been a big tribute to the parents and to the kids for their commitment to being healthy and walking to school safely," said Cami Larsen, principal of Alpine Elementary School.
More than 10,000 schools across the country conduct safe routes to schools programs. Alpine was nominated for the award because of its accomplishments.