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.