WILLIAMSTOWN - The city of Williamstown will be giving area children safety and physical activity-encouraging items later this month.
Between 3 and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 24, children throughout the Williamstown school area are encouraged to choose items on display at the Williamstown City Council Chambers, said Councilwoman Barbara Lewis.
"We are giving out these items to encourage the kids to move," Lewis said.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Williamstown City Councilwoman Barbara Lewis looks through boxes of items to be given away to area children later this month as part of the Safe Routes to Schools program.
Through the Safe Routes to Schools project, which the city has been part of since 2009, items such as bike helmets, bicycle bells, reflectors, jump ropes and hula hoops will be handed out.
As part of the program, 550 students at Williamstown Elementary School received hooded sweatshirts in the school colors of maroon and gold with a design encouraging them to walk to school.
"We got so many wonderful letters and notes from the kids that thank us for the sweatshirts," Lewis said. "Many of them talk about how happy they are everyone got a sweatshirt, that the shirts came in different sizes so everyone got one that fit, and that they were in the school colors."
The Safe Routes to Schools program is a state-funded grant the city was awarded in 2010. The funds have not only allowed the city to provide these items to children, but also build safe sidewalks from the elementary and high schools throughout the city.
Last October, the new five-foot sidewalks with curbing along Dodge Avenue were completed to give the children going to and from schools a safe place to walk. The sidewalks are wide enough to allow wheelchairs to turn.
The grant was given to the city by the state department of transportation because schools are not allowed to take funds from a government agency since they are partially funded by states.
"The grant allowed for us to give children these incentives to get them out and active," Lewis said.
For more than four years, the city and volunteer groups have worked on the Williamstown Healthy Lifestyle Partnership to make it easier for people to have access to exercise.
Lewis said these two programs - Safe Routes to Schools and the city healthy lifestyle partnership - work well together.
"We just want to see everyone in Williamstown be as healthy as possible and by giving out these items and showing kids how fun it is to be outside, it makes me happy," she added.