Wednesday, October 9, 2013

These Routes Were Made for Walking (Now with video from today's walk at Lincoln)

Last year, students at Edgewood Elementary School joined a walking club.

As Pottstown continues its effort to promote fitness by, among other things, encouraging children to walk to and from school, this morning will park a special milestone.

Today is International Walk to School Day, so students from the middle school and all four elementary schools will be walking to school today.

(Please drive carefully.)

Walk to School Day was established in the United States in 1997 by the Partnership for Walkable America, a national alliance of public and private organizations committed to making walking safe, easy and more enjoyable.

"While walking to school was commonplace just a generation ago, traffic jams around schools are now the norm," according to a letter sent home to parents from the Pottstown School District Wellness Council.

By riding to school in cars, "students are losing an opportunity for regular physical activity that is
Walking is good, low-impact exercise and can help fight

childhood obesity.
good for their health." the letter read.

According to David Genova, the Pottstown School District's Wellness Coordinator, Rupert, Barth and Franklin schools are being helped in their efforts by Michele Barrett, Berks County's Safe routes to School coordinator.

Lincoln Elementary School teamed up with the Montgomery County Health Department, which provided students with pedestrian safety education and a three-week walking challenge.

Each school has a staging post for buses and parents to drop off their children and have a specific route they will use to walk to school, accompanied by police officers, teachers and parents.

For example, Lincoln students will meet at the spray park in Memorial Park this morning, do some stretching and then proceed along Second Street to North York Street to the school.

Each of the five schools received a $2,000 grant from the National Center for Safe Routes to School and "we decided to put that money towards supporting Walk to School Day," Genova wrote in an email to The Mercury.

Walk to School day takes on particular significance in light of the ambitious $3 million proposal to repair sidewalks and install bike lanes throughout the town as part of an effort to establish “Safe Routes to Schools”

The idea, presented to borough council in June by Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, is to combine state transportation funding and seek funding from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation as a match to undertake the upgrades, which would include repairing numerous damaged borough sidewalks at no cost to property owners.

At the same time, the district is incorporating the idea of physical fitness into its curriculum and also encouraging students to walk or ride a bicycle to school and home again.

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