Walk and Bike to School Workshop a Big Success

Walk-Roll0192Research shows that physical activity for children increases concentration and can even boost test scores, so it is no surprise that Healthy Central Florida’s (HCF) 2nd Annual Walk and Bike to School Workshop brought together nearly 40 teachers, principals, parents, community members and walking enthusiasts.

They came to share ideas and build partnerships to help schools start and/or grow walk and bike to school programs – including receiving mini-grants for their efforts.

Click here to learn more about the workshop and local efforts.

The research highlighting the positive impact physical activity has on children came out of a Danish study released in 2012 that looked at nearly 20,000 Danish kids between the ages of 5 and 19 and examined the links between concentration, diet, and exercise.

The researcher, said he was surprised that the effect of exercise was greater than that of diet:

“The results showed that having breakfast and lunch has an impact, but not very much compared to having exercised,” according to Niels Egelund, from Aarhus Univ. in Denmark. “As a third-grade pupil, if you exercise and bike to school, your ability to concentrate increases to the equivalent of someone half a year further in their studies,” he added.

To most teachers, this isn’t news.For some parents, it might be.But it’s just one more reason that HCF held its 2nd Annual Walk and Bike to School Workshop – to help educators, community leaders and parents see the many benefits of children walking and biking to school. These include:

  • Improved air quality around schools – reduced car congestion improves the ability for young lungs to breathe better air
  • Increased physical activity – with childhood obesity skyrocketing, simply walking or biking to school daily, or a few times a week, can improve a child’s weight, cardiovascular and muscular health and strength
  • It contributes to a sense of community and when more children are walking and biking, more drivers are aware and paying attention to them

In addition to outlining the benefits of walking and biking, the workshop included speakers and panelists representing law enforcement, city government, schools and parents.  Orange County School Board Member Joie Cadle helped kick things off, and MetroPlan’s Mighk Wilson gave a hopeful glimpse of the progress being made with the Best Foot Forward campaign and getting motorists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

And finally, all schools were given the opportunity to win cash awards of $500 or more through HCF mini-grants.Jill Hamilton Buss, Executive Director of HCF, encouraged all schools to complete their applications – and all of them did!All elementary and middle schools in the Winter Park School Consortium vowed to participate in robust Walk and Bike to School programs – and to measure their results.

So, keep your eyes out for children walking and biking to school – and if you’re a parent, consider encouraging your child to join the healthy fun and walk or bike to school.And don’t forget, like many other parents, you could occasionally walk or ride with them!

 

Posted on: September 23, 2013