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Program aims to create healthy habits in students

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LIHUE >> Levi Vargas, a third-grader at Kapaa Elementary School, usually just runs out of his driveway and makes his way along Kawaihau Road to school — every day there is school.

“Normally, there are lots of kids who walk to school,” said Rosie Jerves on Thursday while waiting on the walking school bus. “We drive the kids to school because we live on Halala Road and it’s too dangerous to let the kids walk (to school). Today, we drove up to St. Catherine’s Church and are waiting for the walking school bus. This is our first time to experience it.”

Coordinated by Kapaa Elementary School teacher Kalei Arinaga, the walking school bus started at the Kauai Athletic Club, Kapaa, and made its way down Kawaihau Road, ending at St. Catherine’s School and Kapaa Elementary School.

“We have teachers at the side streets waiting for students,” Arinaga said. “This morning, we had more than 50 students.”

Casey Fitzgerald was one of the parents waiting with her son Keone, a kindergartener.

“The walking school bus is really good,” Fitzgerald said. “The police escort is nice. We did the walking school bus each time they had it last year for Junior Kindergarten, and this year for kindergarten.”

Fitzgerald walks her son to school daily.

“I wouldn’t let him walk (along Kawaihau) by himself,” the mother said. “Kawaihau Road is OK for walking, but some of the side streets are sketchy.”

Crissi Dyer was escorting her two children, both students at Kapaa Elementary School, for the first time Thursday.

“I’ve got to be at work in several minutes, so I have my husband waiting for me at St. Catherine’s,” said Dyer. “But my children wanted and wanted to do this so we’re doing it.”

Grace Dyer-Baker, a second-grader, said she can sign her name and wants to win the bicycle.

The walking school bus picked up a lot of special guests, including Bev Brody of Get Fit Kauai, state senators Ronald Kouchi and Jill Tokuda, state representatives Jimmy Tokioka and Derek Kawakami. Also joining the group were Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata, and Kauai Area Complex Superintendent William “Bill” Arakaki, and Brent Mizutani of the Department of Education.

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