• 52°

‘Turkey Trot’

AHOSKIE – They walked all the way to the mountains of North Carolina.

That’s what one of the project coordinators had to say following Ahoskie Elementary School’s 2nd Annual Walk to School Day on Nov. 22.

Around 140 sixth grade students, along with 14 staff members, 15 community partners and over a dozen parents participated in the event, which this year included the first “Walk to the Park” event.  The mileage total walked between students and adults equaled what it would take to hike to NC’s mountains.

Ahoskie Police Chief, Troy Fitzhugh noted, “This really brings our community together and lets the kids get out and have a good time outdoors while being safe.”

The Ahoskie Police Department (APD) had six officers as well as Fitzhugh accompany the school children on their mile-long trek to the Ahoskie Recreational Complex and back. Several of the students wore “Walk Safely to School” neon yellow safety vests, provided by the school.

Upon arriving at the park, the children were fed a prepared lunch and later participated in activities such as tug-of-war with the community’s first responders, including the APD as well as deputies from the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, Hertford County Emergency Management personnel, their teachers as well as others.

The event was led by the Hertford County Student Wellness Center as a “Turkey Trot Walk At School Day,” associated with the Active Routes to School division of Albemarle Regional Health Services.

Walk to School Day is celebrating its 20th year in operation.  Based in Chapel Hill, the National Center for Safe Routes to School is funded by the United States Department of Transportation through the University of North Carolina Safety Research Center.

Locally, AES is the only current participant in the program, but they hope to make it an annual event.

“These students give us so much hope. They’re so excited to be out and about, and it’s good to see them out here and safely doing that,” stated Dr. Valerie O’Kelley, Assistant Superintendent for Hertford County Schools.

Dr. O’Kelley was among those community partners who participated in last Tuesday’s outing.

O’Kelley, a Charlotte native, stressed the importance of physical activity.

“Kids these days do not get enough exercise. They are so focused on video games and computers; it is time to get them involved with the outdoors and on something other than what is right in front of them on a screen,” she stated.

O’Kelley added, “It is so good to see (the children) involved in something like this, and excited about it.”

AES plans to hold another “Turkey Trot Walk to School” event next year around the same time, school officials say, and they hope to include even more members of the community in years to come.

The event was led by the Hertford County Student Wellness Center as a “Turkey Trot Walk At School Day,” associated with the Active Routes to School division of Albemarle Regional Health Services.