Health, Human Performance and Recreation Sponsoring Walk to School Day

by News Bureau on Monday, Oct. 03, 2011

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 3, 2011 — The Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation at Southeast Missouri State University in cooperation with the PTA of Alma Schrader Elementary School is sponsoring “Walk to School Day” on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Alma Schrader Elementary School in Cape Girardeau will be joining schools from around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day. The inaugural event in 2005 brought attention to the lack of sidewalks near the school. Now participants of the walk celebrate new sidewalks along the school’s property. The city’s response in building sidewalks is part of a larger goal of fostering Safe Routes to School as well as enhancing the walkability of the entire neighborhood.

Students are being encouraged to walk to school that day along with teachers, parents, grandparents and other community members who wish to participate. Walkers are asked to begin gathering at 7:30 a.m. in the Dennis Scivally Park at the shelter house. School staff, PTA members and others will be present as people arrive and gather. A police officer will also be present and will assist in traffic control as parents drop their children off at the park. All walkers will leave the park at 7:45 a.m. and walk to Alma Schrader School on the sidewalks along Masters Drive and Randol Avenue. The group will arrive at the school shortly before 8 a.m.

University faculty and students from the Southeast Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation will be at the park and joining the walk to promote healthful walking for students and their families. The various programs of the Department such as health management, physical education, recreation, athletic training and sport management all emphasize and promote active lifestyles.

Dr. Mark Langenfeld, professor of health, human performance and recreation, and biology, said, “This event is a great way to emphasize the healthy aspects of walking to school and highlight ways to help make walking more attractive as a way to get to school. This one day event prompted the launch of our Walking School Bus program which gives students a chance to walk to school each week. Walking School Bus is funded with Safe Routes to school grant funds.”

Langenfeld made a presentation in July 2010 at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden, telling about the successes of the local event and the Walking School Bus movement.

“It was wonderful to be able to highlight our Cape Schools and Cape Girardeau at an international forum,” he says. “Promoting walking to school is one worthy strategy to help increase the levels of physical activity among our children. And they love walking! It is loads of fun.”

Now in its 15th year, International Walk to School Day will have participants in all 50 states. The idea is to walk to school together with a purpose–to promote health through physical activity, safety and concern for the environment. Walkers from the United States will join children and adults in over 40 countries around the world. The Wednesday event is one component of the International Walk to School Month being celebrated worldwide.

Walk to School Day was established in the United States in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America. In 2000, the United States, along with Canada and Great Britain, created International Walk to School Day and Month. Now, the National Center for Safe Routes to School encourages efforts to assure that children have safe routes to school so that walking is an attractive option.

Alma Schrader is among the schools worldwide that have registered as a participant school in this event. More than 2,800 schools in the United States participated in the walk in 2010.

For more information prior to the walk, contact Langenfeld at (573) 651-2461 or Alma Schrader School Principal Ruth Ann Orr at (573) 335-5310. On the day of the event, contact Langenfeld at (573) 450-8348. For information about the international walk, visit www.walktoschool.org or www.iwalktoschool.org.