Carrollton Students Skip the Bus and Ride to Class

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Tired of waiting in long carpool lines and at bus stops, Carrollton parents and students think they have found a better way to get to and from school.

Because all Carrollton City Schools are on the same property, which borders a green belt, the community has launched a citywide "Walk and Roll" initiative.

Ten-year-old Micah Alba is not a carpool kid. Not if he can help it. He said, "It is more fun to ride your bike to school."

Micah's ride to and from involves a lot of wide open trail and a lot of other kids around him. He said,    

"You get to like see your friends before and talk to them. And sometimes the trail is fun to ride on."

The Green Belt, which winds through Carrollton, is just over 16 miles long. And in the last few years, parents, Carrollton City Schools, and Tanner Medical Center have begun pushing for students to use the trail - either riding or walking to and from school.

And mom Wendy Alba doesn't miss the carpool line.  Alba said, "With having 4 children, it's a lot of waiting. And my kids are energetic and wanting to get out and play, so the last thing they want to do is come sit in the car again, after sitting at school."

Since students of all ages use the trail, they ride or walk in groups with parents accompanying them. Kent Edwards, Superintendent of Carrollton City Schools, said the parents pushed this idea along. Edwards said, "Really, it's a grassroots-type of movement or initiative. We have a large group of parents who have continued to foster us and really support it."

Before the Green Belt, Lori Blackmon's three children had to wind their way through two miles of neighborhoods, dodging cars. Not anymore. Now she said, "We have to cross only one street, and that is the street right in front of the school. And we have a crossing guard there.  You go under a bridge, over a bridge on the green belt and you haven't touched traffic until you get to the school."

There is a health payoff, too. About a third of Georgia children are either overweight or obese. And many schools have been forced to cut back on recess and physical education. Blackmon said, "So, we need to get them outside and find ways to incorporate exercise in their normal routines. And this is an easy way for us to incorporate 15 minutes to school and 15 minutes home, and it's fun."

And studies show giving kids the chance to get up and move can help them stay on task in the classroom, and perform better on tests.  Edwards said it is not a bad way to wake up.  He said, "In the mornings especially, it gets their heart rate going. It also gives them the opportunity to let go of some of their energy."

And Micah said every day is a good day to ride his bike.