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'Walking School Bus' In Danbury Pushes Students To Hoof It To Class

Students participate in the Walking School Bus in Danbury last year.
Students participate in the Walking School Bus in Danbury last year. Photo Credit: Contributed
The Walking School Bus will become a regular activity at Park Avenue School
The Walking School Bus will become a regular activity at Park Avenue School Photo Credit: Contributed

DANBURY, Conn. — Building on the success of a “Walking School Bus” event that was held last May, a coalition of community partners in Danbury is planning a second event on Wednesday, Oct. 5, to encourage more students to walk to school.

Children who attend Park Avenue Elementary School, parents and volunteers will gather at 7:30 a.m. at Danbury City Hall to make the 1-mile walk to the school, picking up other children at stops along the way.

“Last spring we were thrilled that more than 150 children participated, along with parents, guardians and school staff,” said Maureen Farrell, director of community wellness at the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut and the chair of the Coalition for Healthy Kids. “We are excited that Park Avenue will become the model for how a school can make this a regular activity.”

Children who participate will each receive a pedometer. This is a rain or shine event.

The Walking School Bus is co-sponsored by the Coalition for Healthy Kids, Danbury Public Schools and United Way of Western Connecticut.

The Wednesday event will kick off what will become an ongoing Walking School Bus at Park Avenue School as part of Strong Start Neighborhood Initiative at the school, sponsored by UWWC.

Kim Morgan, CEO of UWWC, said funding from The Grossman Family Foundation is allowing United Way to work with school staff and parents to make the Walking School Bus part of the regular life of the school.

“The children were so excited last year and the parents and school staff were so supportive that we knew we could make this something that could work on a regular basis,” said Morgan.

The Walking School Bus will be coordinated through a Parent Outreach Worker, funded through the Neighborhood Initiative. The initiative provides support and funding for playgroups, workshops, and other activities that promote school readiness and success in the early elementary grades.

Park Avenue School Principal David Krafick is an enthusiastic supporter of the event, and of making it part of the school’s regular routine.

“When more children walk to school they arrive in the classroom energized and ready to learn,” he said, citing a correlation between exercise and enthusiasm for learning. “Our school’s neighborhood setting makes Park Avenue the perfect place to pilot an ongoing Walking School Bus."

Walking School Buses are being promoted across the country as an innovative way to incorporate more exercise into the daily lives of schoolchildren and to address chronic absenteeism.

Those who wish to take part in the Walking School Bus event on Wednesday may park at the Danbury Library parking lot or on Deer Hill Avenue.

To learn more about the Walking School Bus concept, go to walkbiketoschool.org or visit the National Safe Routes to School website at saferoutesinfo.org .

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