Forget the bus! Students encouraged to walk to school

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By Kirsten Laskey

On Wednesday, expect to see more cars in driveways. School buses may be emptier and the sidewalks should be crowded with students and school staff.

More than 60 schools throughout the state are participating in Walk and Roll to School Day on Wednesday.

Among those schools will be Aspen Elementary School and Piñon Elementary School.

These two institutions are encouraging students to forgo vehicular transportation and walk, ride a bike, push a scooter or roller skate to school.

Shirley Graziano, Aspen school nurse, said it is the school’s third year participating in the event and Piñon’s first time in the program.

Graziano said participation at Aspen Elementary has grown each year. The first year, 43 percent of the students participated in Walk and Roll to School. Last year, she said, 60 percent of the students were involved.

Graziano added she noticed when the Walk and Roll to School was held there was a drop in the number of students who walked into her office.

During the first year, Graziano saw two children. Last year, she saw none. This is a significant drop to the typical 10-15 students Graziano treats.

“I have to think that there is a correlation between the two,” she said.

Graziano added, “It does encourage kids, and they find that it’s easy. Sometimes it just takes a little jog to get them started.”

The students are not the only ones who resort to other means of getting to school other than the car. Many of the teachers and staff hoof it to work, too.

“Our parking lot is pretty empty that day,” Graziano said.

Megan Lee, principal at Piñon, said that many students already walk or ride a bike to school.  

Walk or Roll to School will encourage them to continue this healthy habit.

“I think Piñon students do a great job walking to school and riding their bikes and scooters, and I thought the Walk and Roll would help them continue,” she said.

In a press release, New Mexico Transportation Secretary Gary Girón said, “Communities and their schools can use Walk and Roll to School Day to emphasize the importance of increasing physical activity among children, addressing traffic congestion, raising concern for the environment and building connections between families, schools and the broader community.”