The PedNet Coalition sponsored a “walking school bus” Friday morning for students of West Boulevard Elementary School. The event was sponsored to encourage kids to walk to school.
Ian Thomas, project director for the PedNet Coalition, said that because of societal changes, only a small proportion of children walk to school.
“Only about 10 percent of children walk to school. Ultimately, we’re working to create walking school buses,” he said. “Parents would take turns walking three or four households of kids to and from school.”
Childhood weight problems are a primary motivation for the effort.
West Boulevard Elementary and the Columbia Police Department are partners in education. Officer Jay Bramblett said there are many benefits of Walk to School Day.
“To begin, you get the exercise and healthy living by walking to school. Another big benefit is that the police department and teachers get to interact with the kids,” Bramblett said.
Fifth-grader Mary Cason said she enjoyed the walk, which started at the Activity and Recreation Center, headed east down Ash Street and wound through Again Street Park behind the school.
“It was fun, and you get to have fun with your friends,” Mary said. Mary has participated in two walks sponsored by PedNet, and she walks to school everyday.
Students were given a breakfast of fruit, bagels and hot chocolate when they reached the school. About 45 children and 15 adults, including First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton, participated in the event.