Take a Hike!
You know, I can’t think of a better time than Valentine’s Day to tell that special someone in your life to take a hike!
No, really, did you know that walking significantly improves our health and helps us lose a few of those winter pounds? Or that walking three times or more per week can help reduce our healthcare expenses?
The fact is, medical professionals say walking on a regular basis can help all of us extend our lives. Walking helps spur intellectual capacity and problem solving, elevate our mood, reduce depression, and even improve self-esteem. Walking is good for kids and adults alike, so this Valentine’s Day get out there with your sweetheart and stretch those legs!
Luckily for us here in Ukiah, we have some of the best walking opportunities I can think of, including the path right in the middle of our town, the Ukiah Rail Trail.
Ukiah City Councilmember Maureen “Mo” Mulheren hosts a monthly Saturday morning community walk along the rail trail starting at 10:00 AM. Everyone’s welcome. These walks are designed to get people out and walking, all while having some fun! Mo says that people sometimes show up dressed in costumes. “A mini parade, if you will,” she said, and the people who participate can win Downtown Dollars for being the best dressed.
To keep people informed about activities along the trail, Mo started a Facebook group called Ukiah Rail Trail Community (www.facebook.com/groups/ukiahrailtrail). Here, you can find the latest information, and if you click on the events tab, you’ll find an up-to-date walking schedule.
The Ukiah Valley Trail Group is another organization with great information about local walking opportunities. Visit their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mendotrails) or their website (www.mendotrails.org). This committed group of volunteers creates fantastic hiking paths in and around the Ukiah area, and organizes both trail maintenance events and some great organized hikes.
Finally, I be remiss if I did not mention Walk and Bike Mendocino, an organization that promotes walking and biking in our county, and provides excellent education about the benefits of self-powered locomotion, especially in our schools. One of the ways Walk and Bike Mendocino serves as a great community partner is by taking the lead on grant funding projects that promote walking and biking. Recently, they were instrumental in helping obtain a grant to extend Ukiah’s Rail Trail.
While walking to and from school is good for kids’ physical and mental health, it does require them to pay attention to their surroundings.
Sadly, during the last few years local kids walking to and from school have been approached by strangers. Thankfully, all the students acted quickly and got away from danger.
I wish we didn’t have to teach children about stranger danger, but we do. If you have school-aged children who walk to and from school, please teach them to be mindful of their surroundings and help them develop a plan of action in case they are approached or assaulted. They need to know how to use their voices to bring attention to themselves and get help if they are in danger.
Here are the safety tips we encourage you to share with your children:
Don’t talk to strangers.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Stick together; there’s safety in numbers.
Practice basic self-defense. A swift kick to the shins or private parts will slow down an attacker, and a loud scream will get the attention of bystanders.
Lock doors, especially if home alone.
As long as school is in session, our officers will pay extra attention to school routes and school bus stops before and after school, and we will continue to educate students about how to stay safe. If you’d like more information about this, please visit our webpage and click the Community Support tab.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.