Santa Cruz County Kids Are On the Move

Youth participate in bike rodeo, a district-wide event held at Rio Rico High School. (Photo by Sarah Prasek)
Youth participate in bike rodeo, a district-wide event held at Rio Rico High School. (Photo by Sarah Prasek)

Pecan shells are the foundation of a new route where students can safely walk into Coatimundi Middle School in Arizona's Santa Cruz County. The shells were laid by volunteers to create a safe path for kids to get to school without being in traffic..

That's just one example of the creative energy behind the Safe Routes to Schools program in Rio Rico and Nogales, led by Sarah Prasek, senior program coordinator for University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Santa Cruz County, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Coatimundi Middle School, a relatively new school, only had drive-up access. There was no safe approach for young bike riders and walkers. Prasek looked around and saw a solution.

"The site was perfect for creating a back door walking entrance," she said.

"We had no funding to do this project. It was super successful because so many people came on board to make it happen," she said. "This was a great collaborative project. A lot of different people in the community pulled together." That included the owner of the easement, the school district, county officials, a local pecan orchard and volunteers who cleared the path and spread the pecan shells.

The project worked so well that Prasek did it again at the shared campus of Pena Blanca Elementary and Calabasas Middle School, also in Rio Rico.

"It was the same idea – to create a back door – but this time we had a donation of materials from a local gravel and rock company,” she said.

"We need to be creative with our time, resources and partnerships."

Read the rest of this October 11, 2013 UANews article at the link below.

Date released: 
Nov 6 2013
Contact: 
Darcy Dixon