Walking the path to fitness and education

Parents and students of William McKinley Elementary School were greeted by more than just a crossing guard on their walks to schools Wednesday morning.

Walkers were rewarded with sweets and drinks as part of the school’s participation in International Walk to School Day.

Volunteers camped out on four corners leading to the campus at tables stocked with tea cakes, mini-muffins, bagels and cream cheese, coffee and juice.

“Yay!” said Charlotte Skinner, who manned the table at South Victory Boulevard and West Valencia Avenue.

She waved to incoming parents and students as they approached the table full of goodies.

“You’re walking to school! You want some juice? A muffin?” she said, and motioned surprised walkers to the treats, most of which were donated by the Los Angeles Equestrian Center as well as some coffee mugs parents got to keep.

The National Center for Safe Routes to School named October as International Walk to School Month this year.

Parents are encouraged to walk with their children to school this month or have them find a safe route to school instead of driving.

Most of the parents knew about the Walk to School Day and accompanied their children because of it, but parent Lucy Ochoa said she usually walks her 6-year-old daughter Kimberly to school.

“I try to do it like three times a week because I know it’s good for her health,” Ochoa said. “But this is still a great thing they’re doing.”

Kimberly and her mother use their walking time as bonding and teaching time, she said.

“We sometimes go over our numbers,” Ochoa said.

“We go over our ABCs. It’s like our time to go over what she needs to learn.”

Regina Aralar, 7, said she had never been walked to school before by her father, Reggie Aralar. Wednesday was their first time and they both said they enjoyed the experience.

“Oh yeah,” Aralar said, as Regina sipped her juice box. “It’s no problem. I would definitely do this again.”

Some children declined the offerings at the stops but Tiara McKinney, 7, took a muffin for each hand on her way to school.

Both her parents, Taylor and Denise McKinney, walked her to school on Wednesday morning. People passing by waved to the family while Tiara nibbled her blueberry muffins.

Groups exchanged “good morning” greetings on the corners and some of the students even recognized classmates and ran to them for early hour embraces.

But McKinley isn’t the only school in Burbank recognizing the campaign to get parents and students walking to school in the morning.

Other schools in the district, including Theodore Roosevelt and R.L. Stevenson elementary schools have declared days to encourage students and parents to walk to school this month.

 RACHEL KANE covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3205 or by e-mail at rachel.kane@latimes.com.

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