International Walk to School Day touches on so many important issues: health, education, safety, transportation and environment, to mention a few. In convening our Celebrity Panel of Judges, Feet First sought prominent Washingtonians whose work aligns them to the heart and soul of IWALK. We send a big THANK YOU to these three individuals who, together, take on the awesome task of deciding the winners of the Feet First IWALK Challenge!
Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Deputy Director of the WA State Department of Veterans Affairs
During her 22-year military career, Alfie Alvarado-Ramos was the recipient of the Legion of Merit, Order of Military Medical Merit, and several other meritorious service medals, making her the most highly decorated member of the Celebrity Panel of Judges in IWALK Challenge history! She currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, and we are thankful to her for helping bring IWALK to veterans’ families statewide. In addition to overseeing veteran benefits and services, Alfie also leads the Healthy and Safe Communities goals in Governor Jay Inslee’s Healthiest Next Generation Initiative. This initiative is charged with advancing and implementing strategies to get children more active in their daily lives and to achieve a healthy weight for all children in Washington State.
“Getting physical activity on the way to and from school is one great way for students to be more prepared and ready to learn. Growing up in Michigan and Germany, I had the opportunity to safely walk or bike to school. Unfortunately, this is not the norm for too many students.”
James Kissee, Physical Activity Specialist, WA State Department of Health
James Kissee has been a tireless supporter of Safe Routes to School throughout his nearly 20 years promoting physical activity and public health. In his current role with the Washington State Department of Health, James coordinates community-based initiatives that highlight connections between active transportation, education and health. He is credited with inspiring policy development and systems change connected to Active Community Environments, Complete Streets, and Safe Routes to School, to name a few. James was an inspirational force behind the creation of the Safe Routes to School Action Network, a listserv that gives grassroots advocates a voice and and venue to coordinate Safe Routes to School efforts throughout the State of Washington.
“Walking and biking to school is great for students and for communities. All of us benefit when it is safe and easy for families to walk to school.”
Heather Gillette knows more than most what a labor of love it is to get involved with your child’s PTA. Heather has been a PTA volunteer for 20 years and now serves as the Board President for the Washington State PTA. The WSPTA has been in existence for over 100 years and serves over 132,000 members and 875 individual PTAs across the state. PTA is a powerful voice for children, a relevant resource for families, schools and communities, and an advocate for the well-being and education of all children.
“Physical activity is key to helping kids be successful at school. Getting your blood pumping as you start the day is a great way to help improve concentration in the classroom. In addition, it is a great way for families to engage with each other through walking or biking.”
Our three distinguished judges will read and rate the IWALK Challenge entries describing the events that are happening in over 100 school communities this October.