A typical school day for the Mitchell children starts with a walk to class.
Heidi, 13, has made this part of her daily routine since she was in kindergarten. She now has three other siblings who are following in her footsteps.
“Walking outside is fun. You can get exercise if you don’t have any time to do it later,” said Tanner.
What they’re doing is part of Utah’s Safe Routes program, which encourages students to either walk or bike to class. It also instructs children on the importance of navigating roads safely.
The Utah Department of Transportation facilitates the program, and by law, each school must work with them to generate a map that includes the safest routes to and from school.
“They’re learning some good safety principles about, ‘I can’t always go where I want to go,’” said their father, Bret, on the benefits of the program. “We love seeing our kids learn to take on responsibility.”
While it may not look like your grandparents’ story of walking 10 miles in the snow, uphill, it’s a throwback to simpler times for parents.
“A lot of them grew up walking to school themselves, so it’s kind of just continuing that tradition with having their kids walk to school,” said Kristin Hoschouer, UDOT’s Safety Outreach Administrator.
To learn more about Safe Routes, click here.