Oak Harbor's Walk to School Day set
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
September 30, 2011 · Updated 2:26 PM
Instead of the aged “uphill both ways” complaint, this generation can brag about walking to school to reduce fumes and improve their health.
Students will celebrate walking and biking on International Walk to School Day Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Getting daily exercise on the way to school helps combat the childhood obesity epidemic, said Maribeth Crandell, the city of Oak Harbor’s environmental educator.
“We want to start early with healthy lifestyles,” Crandell said.
Walking or biking to school also helps advocate for safer sidewalks and bike lanes by showing county and city leaders that more people are out using those, Crandell said.
These healthy activities reduce the significant amount of noxious fumes around schools from parents idling their cars to drop off their children.
“That can really damage young lungs and minds,” Crandell said.
Crandell grew up walking to school through a forest, an experience rich with opportunities for creativity and imagination.
“I loved our walking commute and often met other kids to play by the creek on Saturdays, too. Who needs a water park or jungle gym? We had our creek and plenty of trees to climb,” Crandell said.
Even if families park a mile from school and walk the rest of the way, it’s still helpful, Crandell said.
Parents concerned about their children walking to school alone can form neighborhood “walking school buses” or “bike trains,” Crandell said. Parents or other family members can take turns making sure the group arrives at school safely.
Crandell said she hopes families will coordinate efforts for Walk to School Day with physical education teachers so that everyone walks in together and makes a bigger impact.
Walking will give students a jump start on their school day, Crandell said. That’s something we all could use.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.