It’s not every day children get a police escort to school, but on Wednesday, hundreds from Estock Elementary were accompanied by more than a dozen Tustin Police employees for the annual International Walk to School.
For nearly a decade, Tustin PD has been participating in the program, rotating among the city’s 10 elementary schools.
“We like to promote physical activity plus safe routes to walk to school,” said Tustin Police Services Officer Adriana Tokar. “A lot of children just take off and go, and we like to make sure they know what to look for.”
Tustin Police Services Officer Megan Evans said the annual outing is also beneficial for parents in the community.
“It’s a reminder for drivers to watch out for little ones and be mindful of (pedestrians), especially in school zones,” she said.
Children walked hand-in-hand with their parents to the corner of First and B streets or First and Yorba streets, where officers greeted the children and passed out stickers and pencils.
Estock principal Beth Blackman said she guessed most of the 350 students who attend the elementary school showed up.
“Most of our kids live in a walkable distance … and we have to cross two major streets, so it’s good to do it together,” Blackman said. “We also want the kids to see the police officers as go-to people in the community, and want to make sure the police officers get to know our kids, too.”
Siblings Emily and David Perez were among the first to arrive that morning, and both were grinning as their classmates filled the street corner.
“I’ve never really seen police walk with us before,” said 7-year-old Emily. “I’m excited.”
Added 9-year-old David: “We’re here for a healthy life and to get a lot of exercise. The police will teach us how to walk safely.”
After arriving on campus, members of the Tustin PD traffic division shared tips on getting to school safely and also put on a motorcycle display.
Children were reminded to always look both ways while crossing the street and to always walk in pairs.
Classes with the largest number of participants were given backpacks filled with school supplies, donated by the Kiwanis Club and Tustin PD.
Blackman said she hoped the event not only inspired her students to adopt a more active lifestyle, but also reinforced the idea that each of her students has a bright future, if they are willing to work hard.
“We really want our children to consider careers that will help them grow — police, firefighters, doctors, lawyers,” Blackman said. “We want them to see there is a lot of opportunity.”