More than 200 Thomas Edison Elementary School students walked to school Wednesday, joining students across the nation in celebrating International Walk/Bike to School Day.
On a typical day, the school’s crossing guard guides about 100 children across the intersection of Burbank Boulevard and Keystone Street; but thanks in part to the organizing efforts of PTA President Donna Cunningham — who started a group called the Walking School Bus, in which half a dozen families walk to school en masse, at the start of this school year — participation more than doubled Wednesday.
“The Walking School Bus is a great benefit and has created a community within our school, and we’re hoping this will encourage others to take part in it,” Cunningham told the Burbank Leader. “It’s beneficial physically, socially and environmentally.”
We couldn’t agree more. Two of the most well-publicized problems in America the last few years have been childhood obesity and global warming. The Walking School Bus provides a win-win by allowing kids to exercise on the way to school, while also getting a few more cars off the road.
In addition, a mass walk to school offers a more communal spirit than 200 kids traveling in separate vehicles. The students interviewed said they enjoyed showing off their Pokémon playing cards and American Girl dolls and even discussing the presidential race. One 7-year-old even told the reporter that he didn’t like riding in cars very much.
The Walking School Bus also provides an opportunity for older students to get volunteer experience, as four or five “valet kids,” who set out orange cones and direct traffic along Keystone Street. With two major intersections that fill up in the morning with cars, bikes and pedestrians, that guidance can prevent accidents.
Cunningham’s group only comprises a portion of the Edison families who travel to school on foot, but she told the Leader that she hopes to encourage others to start their own walking groups.
“It has been such a pleasure to spend quality time with our children each day without the distractions of driving,” she wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
We commend Cunningham and other parents for their efforts to give kids — and the environment — a healthy start to the day. And next time International Walk/Bike to School Day rolls around, we hope the turnout is twice as solid.