Nearly 200 students at Lakemont Elementary School walked with elected officials, parents and teachers on a gorgeous fall “Walktober” day to mark International Walk to School Day. Throughout Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville, it is expected that close to 2,000 walked or rolled to school today.
Click here to view a brief video of the event.
“Last year, we saw a 62 percent increase in walkers on International Walk to School Day compared to normal weekdays,” said Jill Hamilton Buss, executive director of Healthy Central Florida, which is helping coordinate and support the effort at area schools.
“Parents were having as much fun as kids were today,” said Buss. “In addition to being fun, there are many other benefits, including improved learning and retention, better behavior and very importantly — better health.”
During the past three decades, the obesity rate for children ages 6 to 11 has increased from 4.2 percent to 17 percent. And type 2 diabetes could quadruple by 2050, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting kids walking and biking also helps maintain a healthy weight.
International Walk to School Day is also a great opportunity to raise awareness for pedestrian safety. Healthy Central Florida and organizations such as Best Foot Forward continue to work with municipalities and other community organizations to identify and address challenges such as traffic, speed, lack of sidewalks, crosswalks and trails as well as motorist behavior.
“The success of our efforts and growing this program each year is due to a total community effort,” said Hamilton Buss. “Our principals, teachers, city leaders, elected officials, parents and advocates continue to work together to promote safety, health and student success.”
Your help is needed too. Please remember to ALWAYS slow down in school zones and watch for children and parents; yield to pedestrians in crosswalks (anywhere, not just in school zones) and don’t ever text while driving. Lives are at stake – take care out there.