A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

International Walk to School Day paired with a health and fitness day at Garden Springs


 Safe Kids Fayette County partnered with Garden Springs Elementary for this year's Walk to School Day.

Safe Kids Fayette County partnered with Garden Springs Elementary for this year’s Walk to School Day. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

 
By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward
 
Students and staff at Garden Springs Elementary in Lexington stretched International Walk to School Day into a day-long whirlwind of outdoor activities. With stations ranging from jazzercise, martial arts and jump rope to dental hygiene and healthy eating, the day had something for everyone. And at the closing pep rally on the front lawn, they learned the PTA’s annual walk-a-thon had yielded $7,838 to supplement the school’s computer lab.
 

   Staff from the pediatrics unit at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital shared tips for bicycle safety. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

Staff from the pediatrics unit at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital shared tips for bicycle safety. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

“The students got a one-time pledge donation for walking for 30 minutes, and we offered healthy incentives such as extra recess or a day with the gym teacher,” said parent organizer Emily Stuart. “We call it a walk-a-thon, but it’s evolved into something a lot more, really. It’s about getting kids excited about making better choices for their body. It’s to show them it can be fun to make good choices.”
 
So when Safe Kids Fayette County put out the call about 2014’s Walk to School Day, Garden Springs was eager to pair the opportunity with its planned health and fitness day. Safe Kids partners with a different elementary school each October to promote physical activity, to improve air quality (reduced gas emissions from fewer cars driving to school) and to foster pedestrian and bike safety. “With it being a neighborhood school, we have a large number of walkers,” said Tiffany Runyon, the Family Resource Center coordinator at Garden Springs.
 
Safe Kids volunteers came out before and after school to walk a few blocks with students, who received wristbands. In the morning, a handful of football players from the University of Kentucky signed kids’ T-shirts, and in the afternoon, five UK cheerleaders led off the pep rally. Mayor Jim Gray also read a Walk to School Day proclamation praising their efforts and congratulated the students who collected the most walk-a-thon pledges.
 

Garden Springs Elementary combined Walk to School Day with its planned health and fitness day activities. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

Garden Springs Elementary combined Walk to School Day with its planned health and fitness day activities. (Photo by Tammy L. Lane)

Two days earlier, Safe Kids set up a mini city in the gym, complete with crosswalk mats, traffic lights and laminated road signs. The entire school – kindergarten through fifth grade – rotated through for the pedestrian safety lessons and took home stickers that reminded them: Use your head before you use your feet. “They covered ways to safely cross the street, such as looking both ways and crossing between the white lines and not going in between cars,” Runyon recalled. “They also talked about wearing reflective clothing at night and why that’s important and using sidewalks and bike lanes when possible.”
 
In addition, Safe Kids set up a special station for fourth- and fifth-graders that focused on potential distractions such as headphones and smartphones, which can be hazardous for pedestrians and for drivers. “When people are distracted, that’s when you’re at risk for things to happen,” said Sherri Hannan, the Safe Kids program coordinator. “These are life-long lessons,” she noted. “They need to take responsibility for not putting themselves in harm’s way.”
 
Runyon agreed. “Kids need to be safe when crossing streets and really pay attention because drivers are so distracted nowadays,” she said. “Don’t take shortcuts, use good judgment and make sure you’re paying attention.”
 
Tammy L. Lane is a media and communications specialist with the Fayette County Public Schools.


Related Posts

Leave a Comment