MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Thousands of schools in the U.S. participated in national "Walk to School Day."

Students at Central Elementary in the Reeths-Puffer district also took part, using a section of new sidewalk, making it safer for them to walk or bike to school.

It took a community effort involving school, township and road commission leaders to get this sidewalk, which was built this summer along Giles and Horton roads.

The effort is expected to teach students and parents that walking is a healthy habit they can develop, officials say.

"Laketon Township approached us several years ago and was interested in growing our community as a walking community and we wanted to participate in that," said Pam Turner, director of state and federal programs at Reeths-Puffer School District.

"Our value is seeing a safer way to walk to school for kids, as well as a great fitness opportunity for kids to be out moving, and it is not safe for them to be out on the street. And so this was an opportunity for that."

The new stretch is just under one mile, paid for with a $215,000 federal safe routes to school grant.

The money also pays for a walking and biking curriculum teachers at Central Elementary are using in their classrooms.