EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Hundreds of local students, parents and teachers were on the move early Wednesday in recognition of National Walk to School Day.
Nearly 90 participants from Stringtown Elementary School met at the nearby Buehler’s IGA parking lot so they could walk together as a group. Students, teachers, parents and volunteers were led by an officer from the Evansville Police Department for the half-mile walk to the school’s front doors.
Stringtown third grader Nickolas Butcher said he and his friends were excited to take part in the walk to school event.
“I think it’s important to support the community,” Butcher said. “Just having someone to lead us and tell us what to do.”
The annual event got its start in 1997 as a movement aimed at encouraging exercise and developing year-round safe routes for students walking or biking to school.
Over time, the walk to school event expanded to communities in 40 countries that participate the first Wednesday of October every year. This year more than 4,000 schools across the nation registered to participate in the event.
Stringtown first grade teacher Brenna Cameron said the walk to school event allows students to explore the environment and see their teachers in a different light.
“I think it’s good, especially before the day, to kind of get some energy out,” Cameron said. “But it also gets students to see the staff in a different atmosphere, a less stressful setting, and to connect with them individually outside the classroom.”
On a larger scale, Cameron said, the national event also shows students a sense of community and the importance of safety, a reflection of the international movement that began 22 years ago.
“We’re all walking together,” she said. “Students get a sense of community with them getting familiar with the route. The cop escorting us shows them that everybody’s kind of looking out for them to get there safely.”
Having these experiences outside of class, Stringtown Elementary parent Kyler Hunter said, also encourages them to become “good students” of the Evansville environment.
With students potentially walking more often to school, he said, they could be more aware of walkable routes and make efforts to preserve local neighborhoods around the Stringtown Elementary area.
As for other ways to promote exercise and develop safe routes for students, Hunter suggests other initiatives should be set in place to educate them for the betterment of their health and protection.