After three years of operating, the New York Elementary Walking School Bus has completed its final semester. The program has been a great success with thirty-one students participating this year alone. “Bus drivers”, consisting of volunteers from the community, the University of Kansas and United Way’s AmeriCorp program and staff from New York Elementary and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, assured that students safely walked the 1.5 mile route between New York Elementary and Edgewood Homes. Despite the prolonged winter, the Walking School Bus operated 64 days this year with an average of 8 students walking per day. The students alone walked a total distance of 700 miles. That is one and a half times the length of the entire state of Kansas.
These students should be applauded for their commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle. At a celebration on Tuesday, May 21st, students were presented with a certificate of participation and a few prizes for a job well done. Members of Walk Kansas and the Lawrence Fire and Medical Department joined staffs from New York Elementary and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to present the awards. Each student received eight issues of the Walk Kansas Kids newsletter. Each newsletter has healthy information, activities and recipes the whole family can enjoy. We hope it will encourage students to continue walking and being active throughout the summer. Each student also received a ZOMBIE water bottle and dog tag courtesy of the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority and Douglas County Housing, Inc. After the presentation, students enjoyed a healthy snack before walking home with staff and recruits from the Lawrence Fire and Medical Department. Susan Johnson of Walk Kansas had this to say about the program, "The partnership between New York Elementary School and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority to offer a Walking School Bus to younger students is an excellent example of the community working together to promote health and wellness. Not only does it help children achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, it also fosters a sense of teamwork and friendship. In addition, the Walking School Bus provides children the opportunity to learn about their own neighborhood, traffic safety as well as gain responsibility and a sense of independence."
Individual miles walked by these students were quite impressive. Twenty six of the thirty one participants walked more than ten miles throughout the school year. Six students walked more than twenty miles, two students walked more than thirty, four students walked more than forty, one student walked sixty miles and the participant logging the most miles was a New York Elementary kindergartner who walked a total of eighty-one miles.
We hope these students continue their healthy habits and encourage their peers to do so as well.