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Putting our best foot forward at back-to-school events

It’s that time of year again… back-to-school. Love it or hate it, Orange County students, parents, teachers and administrators are gearing up for the 2017/18 school year. To do our part, Best Foot Forward (BFF) and our partners at Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive and the University of Miami’s WalkSafe program were making the rounds to Back-to-School fairs to make sure families have the information they need to arrive safely.

Here are some photos and highlights from the events:

Commissioner Siplin’s Family Wellness Fair

Long lines snaked out of the front door of Barnett Park Gym to enter the first back-to-school event of the season, Commissioner Victoria Siplin’s Family Wellness Fair.  More than 1,000 area residents received free school supplies and valuable information to ready them for the school year with a goal of staying healthy.  BFF and Walk-Ride-Thrive staff and volunteers gave away bicycle helmets as fast as they could fit them on 120-plus students planning to ride their bikes to school.

“I couldn’t believe how many people came to the event and picked up tips and helmets from us,” said Michele Ruth, a nurse and BFF’s newest volunteer.  Her husband, Orlando Police Lieutenant Richard Ruth, even jumped in to lend a hand.


MicheLee Puppets’ Back-to-School Bash

Between two entertaining and educational puppet shows, BFF spoke with attendees about walking and bicycling safety and fitted helmets at MicheLee Puppets’ Back-to-School Bash at the Maitland Civic Center.  Approximately 185 Maitland-area residents showed up for the show plus Kid-IDs, health screenings, free backpacks and information on bicycling and walking to school safely.

Commissioner Nelson’s Back to School Fair

BFF had the most crowded table in the gym at Commissioner Nelson’s Back-to-School Fair.  Kids were excited to be able to receive new helmets, and BFF couldn’t fit them fast enough! Numerous children said that they ride their bike to and from school, and most did not own a helmet. Parents were grateful to be improving safety of their kids and the community. Coloring books were a huge hit with the kids, and both kids and parents were interested in pedometers to keep them fit and healthy this upcoming school year.

Commissioner Thompson’s Back to School Fair

Commissioner Thompson’s 7th Annual Back-to-School fair has become one of the best attended in the county with more than 1,300 parents and children picking up free backpacks and back-to-school supplies.  BFF was pleased to take part in it again this year providing bike/ped safety information and bike helmet fittings. Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive provided the helmets and BFF provided the staff, volunteers and lots of educational and fun safety information.  Hundreds of stickers, new FDOT comic books and coloring books in Spanish and English brought smiles to both parents and children.

Commissioner Bonilla’s Back to School Fair

The Goldenrod Magic Gym was the place to be Saturday, August 5 in Orange County District 5 as Commissioner Bonilla hosted her first Back-to-School Fair.  Parents, children, volunteers and even Commissioner Bonilla danced and sang as they picked up back-to-school supplies, took advantage of free health screenings and were fitted for helmets from BFF and Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive.  BFF volunteers reminded everyone to watch for and yield to people walking as children make their way back to school next week.

Orange County Council of PTA/PTSA Presidents and Principals Breakfast

BFF lent a hand to the University of Miami’s WalkSafe and BikeSafe staff to discuss the importance of having pedestrian and bicycling safety curriculum in schools to an audience of Orange County PTA presidents, principals and district officials.  The Florida state-approved curriculum is currently taught in several OCPS schools, but most everyone we spoke to agreed that all children need these life-saving lessons.


To see all of the fun photos from these events, check out our Flickr account!

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