Hundreds of students opted to walk or bike to Green, Hucrest and Eastwood elementary schools Wednesday morning as part of National Walk and Bike to School Day.

Blue Zones Project-Umpqua and Bike Walk Roseburg partnered to host the “Walking School Bus” opportunities for the three schools, with adult volunteers escorting the kids along the walk for safety.

Holding up a yellow cutout of a school bus donning the words, “Same Kids, Just Healthier,” 9-year-olds Danika Opp and Sophie Howren marched to school from the parking lot behind Abby’s Pizza on northeast Diamond Lake Boulevard to Eastwood Elementary School.

“It’s to get exercise before school and let our energy out and be refreshed and ready for school,” said Howren, a third-grader.

It’s nice to get fresh air, added fourth grader Daniko Opp

For the last six years, Eastwood Elementary, entire student body has walked to school twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring.

Eastwood Principal Nicki Opp said it’s important to give kids opportunities to walk or bike to school along safe routes.

“Kids are more likely to do it if they’ve done it before, and have practiced it and know the rules,” Nicki Opp said. “They’re walking with adults who remind them of safety rules.”

Fifth-grade students Keven Savage, Canyon Tate and Mason Palomino walked together along the route to Eastwood.

“If you live near here and there are no buses to take you, you can walk,” Savage said. He said it’s more fun to walk with friends.

Tate said he had walked to school once before.

“It makes you not as hyper in class,” Tate said. “It’s fun because you get to talk to your friends too.”

“And you get to laugh,” Palomino added.

The students, school staff and volunteers paraded down the street as blue balloons with the Blue Zones’ slogan, “Live Longer, Better,” floated above them.

Kirk Blaine, project manager for Blue Zones Umpqua, said it’s great to see how excited all the kids are.

He added Nicki Opp has been leading her students on walks to school for years and her efforts are a good model for other schools.

“We’re excited to get the ball rolling for safe routes to get to schools,” Blaine said.

Reporter Emily Hoard can be reached at 541-957-4217 or ehoard@nrtoday.com. Or follow her on Twitter

@hoard_emily.

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Business, Natural Resources and Outdoors Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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