Below is is a repost from a Lawrence’s Well Commons article dated 9/27/16
Lawrence-area students are once again dusting off their walking shoes in preparation for this fall’s annual Walk to School Day.
Slated for Oct. 5, the global event encourages kids — and their parents — to walk or bike to school on a designated day each year. All Lawrence elementary schools — with the exception of Pinckney, which has moved students to Lawrence’s East Heights School while undergoing renovations — are participating in this year’s local celebrations, says Michael Showalter, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s health promotion specialist.
The health benefits of walking, he says, are obvious. In addition to spurring more physical activity overall in kids, studies link walking with helping to maintain healthy weight, blood pressure, and bones, muscles and joints, Showalter said.
There’s also, he said, the promise of social interaction that kids won’t find in a car commute.
“It’s about togetherness and connecting with your community and your friends,” says Showalter, who also coordinates the Health Department’s Safe Routes to School program.
He has seen plenty of groggy kids in school parking lots rolling themselves out of Mom’s car in the same way they’d sluggishly roll themselves out of bed in the morning. Walking, Showalter says, wakes students up, creating a mindset that is ready to engage in learning.
Last year, “we had over 3,000 students,” mostly at the elementary-level, participate in Walk to School celebrations in Lawrence, he says. This year, the Health Department and its partners are widening their scope to Eudora Elementary School, where kids will end their walking journey to school after meeting first at the Eudora Public Library and using the new shared-use path that runs behind the school.
In Lawrence, Sunset Hill Elementary School is offering muffins and juice for walkers, while Langston Hughes Elementary School is celebrating with music and prizes. New York Elementary School students are invited to meet staff and Principal Nancy DeGarmo at Hobbs Park (702 E. 11th St.) at 7:30 a.m. for an en masse walk down 11th Street and eventually New York Street to the school.
Local Walk to School Day events are coordinated in partnership the Health Department’s Safe Routes to School program, with the city of Lawrence, the LiveWell Lawrence coalition, Lawrence Public Schools and the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“What we really want to impart to community members and students is that walking and biking is fun. And it’s easy,” Showalter says. “And the more you do it, the more fun you have and the easier it becomes.”
Showalter encourages parents to reach out to their schools for more information, or to contact him directly at 843-3060 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Schools are also posting Walk to School Day events at www.walkbiketoschool.org.