Safe Routes Program rewards kids for walking, riding bikes to school

Nov 3, 2023, 6:52 PM

Jack DeMass...

Fourth-grader Jack DeMass rides a new bike he won by taking part in the Safe Routes Program. (KSL TV)


SALT LAKE CITY — A program called Safe Routes Utah is encouraging more students to walk and pedal to school.

Fourth-grader Jack DeMass said it’s easy. “You walk, you just take one step then another,” he explained.

Every day kids from all over get themselves to and from school.

“Usually, I walk to school. Sometimes I ride my bike to school if I’m late or if it’s cold,” Jack added. “We always go the same way and when we get back from school, we come out the door, find each other and when we walk we take off.”

Jack and other kids look forward to his roll to and from school every day.

The Safe Routes Walk and Roll Challenge rewards students K-8 with a monthly prize for walking or biking to school. Jack’s mother, Caitlin DeMass, knew he was a perfect candidate.

Jack and Caitlin DeMass

Caitlin DeMass enrolled Jack and her other children in the Safe Routes Program. (KSL TV)

“Since my kids walk and ride to school every day, I had been entering them in,” Caitlin said.

Jack was one of the few lucky winners, getting a prize that made him even more excited about his journey to and from school.

“I’m like, really? This never usually happens to me and then we got to the store I was like, this is it, this is the one, “he said. “I’m like, this is the one, that’s a good bike!”

“It’s good for physical health, it’s good for mental health, our air quality and it takes – as a busy mom – some things off my plate,” Caitlin said. “But I think it’s also an important life skill to help kids be able to develop that confidence and sense of independence as they learn how to get themselves from one place to another safely.”

Managers would like nothing more than to have more parents see the program the same way as Caitlin.

“The more kids who walk and bike to school, the fewer vehicles there will be on the road, so if we can get every kid to walk and bike and those who live far away to ride the bus, then there will be far fewer people driving past the school,” Kristen Hoschouer, Safe Routes Program manager said.

With more kids teaming up to get school together and fewer cars on the road, kids like Jack feel safer and excited about winning the next prize.

“When I got the bike, I’m like yeah, I have to ride this to school,” Jack said.

You can get more on Safe Routes Utah by clicking here.

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Safe Routes Program rewards kids for walking, riding bikes to school