Article by: Rebecca Charles
The Safe Routes to School Program helps make it safe and fun for students to bicycle and walk to school. When kids are more active, they arrive to school focused and ready to learn. Safe Routes to School has many benefits for Minnesota including improved safety, reduced traffic and improved air quality near schools. Preparing a ‘Trails Program’ can be done by a city subcommittee and assistance from an engineer, but Hayfield EDA Director and CEDA team member, Rebecca Charles felt something was missing. The EDA board wanted the entire community to be able to give their input on the project.
Through a process of interactive activities, the goal of the Hayfield EDA is to obtain details from students regarding where trails will be most beneficial in making it easier to walk or bike to school. Factors that will be identified include tripping hazards in route to school, locations where there is no current safe place for students to walk, heavy traffic and other obstacles when walking and biking to school. “It’s extremely important to get the input from the youth of the community as well as the parents. It is the younger students who are doing the walking. They know the answers to our questions better than anyone else!”, says Charles.
On Thursday, February 20th, Charles met with the Senior and Junior classes at the Hayfield Public High School in the gymnasium to secure their input. Charles introduced the Safe Routes to School program to the students, along with what the EDA is trying to accomplish through these activities. Two more workshops will be held in April to gain community input from the community at large.