A walk to remember

Students learn lesson in taking things slowly



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Christy Jeffreis walks with her children JaNay, 6, left, and Ammon, 4, past Independence Elementary School as part of National Walk Day Oct. 2.

INDEPENDENCE -- "Look, the colored leaves are falling...the spiders have made webs...I never saw that store before..."

Judging from student observations like these along the way, national Walk To School Day delivered its message to Independence Elementary School students.

The goal was to inspire young people to get out from behind the computer or television screen and explore the world powered by their own legs.

Students, parents, teachers and administrators from Independence Elementary joined millions of their peers throughout the nation in forming "walking school buses," as part of a national event Oct. 2. Independence Elementary was one of 40 Oregon schools to participate.

"The kids made lots of signs and held them up, waving at cars to show them this was National Walk To School Day," said Principal Jan Burke. "As we walked there were a lot of smiles from drivers."

In addition to the neighborhood walk, students heard mayor and athlete John McArdle and physical education teacher Meg Greiner emphasize the importance of physical activity.

"They really stressed how important it is to get exercise, to walk whenever possible," Burke said.

In fact, McArdle issued a proclamation during TEAM Time advocating exercise. One out of every six Oregon students is overweight or at risk of becoming so due to not getting enough physical activity.

Less than 50 percent of Oregon high school students report getting regular physical activity, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control study.

It showed that less than one trip to school in seven is made by walking or biking.

When children are more physically active they reduce the risk of becoming overweight and of developing diabetes -- two risk factors for heart disease.

Bringing attention to safety for children walking was another theme of the day.

"Pedestrian injury is the third-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14," said Ellen Vanderslice, coordinator of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition.

"We're hoping this event will remind drivers that children are out there walking to and from school."

Burke thinks the message of the special day hit its mark at Independence Elementary.

"The students really experienced that they could get so much more from walking and observing than in riding in a car. You can just see so much."



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