"Sometimes the cars don't stop," said Zane, a fifth-grader. "It's very scary."
In the past week, Zane has learned what he can do to avoid being hit by a careless driver.
That includes looking twice at both sides of the road, crossing the street at the corner and even carrying flashlights and wearing light clothing at night.
He had a chance to apply what he learned on Wednesday after school when he and about 50 children and adults walked three blocks from the school to Northwest Park as part of the International Walk to School Day. At the park, kids received T-shirts and goodie bags that included healthy snacks. It was part of an educational program called Safe Kids Walk This Way.
The program, was organized by Safe Kids Snohomish County, a nonprofit that aims to provide safety tips for children and is part of the Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Safe Kids provided class materials this week to Whittier teachers for lessons about traffic signs and safety skills.
"They need to know this their whole lives," Whittier principal Carla Barton said.
The event has been organized since 2001. This year, it was done after school so more kids could participate and there wouldn't be a rush to get to school, coordinator Shawneri Guzman said.
The goal was to teach children they have some responsibility for being safe while they cross streets, Guzman said.
"We want to focus on what pedestrians could do," she said.
Whittier Elementary School was the only school that participated on Wednesday in the county. Hazelwood Elementary School in Lynnwood is also doing a similar event, but it's scheduled later, Guzman said.
Pedestrian safety has become more important since there has been an increase of pedestrian related injuries this summer and as school starts, Guzman said.
"We have an average of four to five cases a week in the ER," Guzman said.
Another new challenge is that there are more students walking to and from school because of changes to school bus routes in the county.
"We have more walkers now than ever," Guzman said.
Besides walking with volunteers and their parents, kids also entered drawing contests.
Eight-year-old Amelia walked along her 6-year-old brother Henry and her mother Theresa. During the week, she was reminded that she needed to walk on the sidewalk and to look twice before crossing the road.
"I learned to look right, left, right," she said. "Maybe a car is coming when you were looking to the left."
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@ heraldnet.com.
Keeping kids safe
These are some tips for kids who walk to and from school should know:
• Kids younger than 10 should cross the street with an adult.
Streets should be crossed at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
Never run out into the street or cross between parked cars.
Always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see you.
•Slow down and be alert in neighborhoods and school zones.
Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
Reduce any distractions inside your car.
Source: Safe Kids USA website
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