- Pinevale Dads have been walking students home from school since the start of the year.
- Less than 20 percent of elementary school students walk to school.
- Watch the video to see how it is impacting students.
I should've brought my walking shoes today, because I'm hitting the pavement with Pinevale Elementary School students and walking them home from early dismissal.
I'm Malia Thomas in Valdosta, and I walked alongside students and teachers at Pinevale Elementary school to see how they're making a difference in this neighborhood.
"How do you guys feel about getting off early today?"
"You all happy?"
"Are you going to miss school while you are out though?
Tyler: "No" Kadence: "Yes!"
These are siblings Tyler and Kadence Smith. He's in first grade; she's in third.
They tell me they can't walk home fast enough, because they have Thanksgiving Break plans.
"I want to see my grandma."
Behind them is Pinevale's intervention specialist Columbus Carter the III and a "Pinevale Dad". He tells me the school has been doing these dismissal walks since the beginning of the year, and he was inspired by his own teachers growing up.
"My mom she was a Sunday school teacher so she kind of helped grow me up a little bit and I guess I had awesome teachers that spent time to help me with tutoring."
He also tells me that the Pinevale Dads are on a mission to keep students safe and give them a male figure.
"It's something that we all need. I came from a two parent household and that redirection from my father, I mean, that helped me grow up. My mom, she did her job as well, but the the voice of dad and 'Hey you need to straighten up', that always helps out."
The need for these types of programs have not gone unnoticed.
To see the benefits these walking programs have in schools, I checked with the CDC.
Although walking to school supports healthy development, learning, and cognition, less than 20 percent of elementary-aged children walk to school in the United States. Their walking school bus study says: "Walking to school is an important intervention strategy for improving public health, because large numbers of children can be reached without disrupting time in school."
The Pinevale Dads will be out here every Friday, making sure their students make it home safe.