The United Way of Central Alabama has begun a simple initiative in the fight against childhood obesity, the Walking School Bus. Parents and agency-approved volunteers coordinate groups of children and walk them to school on Wednesdays, providing not only exercise but also a connection to the neighborhood that you can’t get from a bus window.
This initiative currently includes three Birmingham schools, and some parents have been so pleased they are adding additional Walking School Bus days on their own.
Walking is how a lot of our parents got to school (in the snow, they remind us). Then came suburban sprawl and carpools and walking wasn’t just unlikely, it was impossible. New schools are often set back off wide roads, surrounded by parking lots and large overhangs for carpool pick up with nary a connecting sidewalk in sight.
Ironically, it is the older neighborhoods that have schools in walking proximity, and around Birmingham such neighborhoods are either less affluent (East Lake) or gentrified (Crestline). Yet what program could be simpler than walking to school for exercise? The infrastructure – accessible sidewalks – is already there. How nice that it doesn’t take any expensive equipment or political clout to make a difference.
Why not coordinate a Walking School Bus in your community? View more information here.