LAWTON, OK (KSWO) –Pat Henry and Central Middle School students laced up their shoes and hit the ground walking for International Walk to School Day.
But they weren't alone. Members of the Lawton Police Department, Lawton School Resource Officers and soldiers from Fort Sill escorted around 50 fifth graders from Pat Henry Elementary School along the new bike trail on Northwest Fort Sill Boulevard.
Once the students reached Central Middle School, they went inside for a tour of what will soon be the next phase of education for the students. When the tour was over, the students headed back to the elementary school with around 100 Central Middle School students. The goal for the walk was to help promote a healthier and fit lifestyle for the students.
Organizers want to help the students choose safe routes to school that will not only help them get in shape, but help them avoid streets where they may be confronted with drugs.
Pat Henry fifth grader Gabe Stone says the walk helped him get a good handle on how to get fit. He says the walk with the Lawton Police Department and soldiers from Fort Sill gave him a sense of safety heading into the new school year at Central Middle School.
"Cause there was a lot stores and people. That's good because other people can help you and there's a lot of space to run if you need. It was really sunny, I didn't take my jacket off. We got too walk with our friends for like two miles from school so that will work," Stone said.
Sandy Foster, the Comanche County Memorial Hospital's Healthy Living Program director, says with the help of local law enforcement and soldiers from Fort Sill, she's proud of the positive example the community showed the young students.
"Letting them know healthy is easy. It doesn't take a lot of money. We were also letting them know that it's safe for them to walk back and forth to school," Foster said.
Foster says Pat Henry is in a neighborhood that gets a bad reputation at times because of the criminal activity that goes on from time to time. She says Wednesday's walk proved otherwise, something she wanted the kids to see firsthand.
"We had people out there in their yards waving to us, talking to us. So, for the kids to see that there are adults out here who care about them just gives them the confidence that they can do it and it is safe out here," Foster said.
Stone says this is something he'll definitely remember heading into the summer. He says the event was so fun, he's ready to be a Central Cougar.
"Well, they had lots of sports, lots of clubs, I've never seen that many clubs. Big space, bigger than I've ever seen before. A lot of nice people that I don't know yet, but everything else was great," he said.
In all, it took the students about two hours to complete the walk. Organizers say this was the first time Lawton Public Schools took part in International Walk to School Day.