Oct 16, 2013 Allie Wenner Uncategorized
Since 1997, schools across the nation have been participating in the International Walk to School Day, which occurs one day each year in early October.
On the morning of Oct. 9, five Central New York schools participated in the event: Minoa Elementary and Fremont Elementary in the East Syracuse Minoa school district, Waterman Primary School and State Street Intermediate School in the Skaneateles school district and McKinley-Brighton Elementary in the Syracuse city school district.
According to the event’s website, more than 4,000 schools across the county participated this year.
Christine Kirkman, the school nurse at Minoa Elementary School, started the event six years ago to help remind kids and parents that a 10 or 20 minute walk to and from school can go a long way in terms of physical fitness.
“It highlights how it’s important to think about our activity and how we can change our lives in small ways,” Kirkman said, “I think everybody has become more aware that children have become more sedentary than in previous decades, but I think it’s a small thing that a school can do to raise awareness about how this could be an easy way for a child to get exercise.”
“This fall, many of the children that I used to see walking to school are taking the bus. So I hope that with Walk to School Day this year, it’s a subtle reminder of how close they really are and that they can walk. We have crossing guards and sidewalks that make it safe to get to our school,” Kirkman said.
In Skaneateles, the Oct. 9 event is one of two Walk to School Days held each year. The October event focuses on health and fitness and the other Walk to School Day, held on Earth Day, concentrates on having children to get to school in the most eco-friendly way possible.
“I like to encourage the fact that yes, my kids can get the school bus at the end of our driveway, but when the weather’s nice, we should take advantage of the ability to walk to school,” said Annette Matthews, chairperson of the Walk to School committee in Skaneateles. “We’re also trying to help the kids to realize that when they get to middle school, they’ll have to walk because the buses will not pick up students who live within a mile of the school.”
This is the fourth year that Skaneateles has participated in Walk to School Day. On Oct. 9, students at both elementary schools were encouraged to walk if they live close enough.
Students who live farther away had the option of being dropped off at one of two parking lots the public village lot between State Street and Jordan Road and a small school lot off of State Street across the street from Austin Park. Parent leaders met the students at those locations and led the group on the walk to school as what they deemed “walking school buses.”
“After last Walk to School Day, we saw more kids walking,” Matthews said. “And I hope that in April, when we encourage bus use, we’ll see less parents dropping off their kids.”
Across Central New York, kids and staff members agreed that Walk to School Day is something they look forward to each year.
“It’s just a really nice way to start the day,” said Kirkman. “If I could start every day with the school community going out and walking the short distance that we go, it would be a great way to begin each school day. It’s energizing and the community is happy to be outside together and walking. It’s really a pleasure.”
Allie Wenner is the editor of the Eagle Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.