Schools want kids to take a walk
BY JAMES D. WOLF JR. October 7, 2013 5:54PM
Updated: November 9, 2013 6:20AM
VALPARAISO — Some Memorial Elementary School parents think walking to school is pretty important.
So important that on Monday, to promote “Walk or Bike to School Day,” they drove to a neighborhood that has sidewalks, so children could walk to school safely.
At least three parents from the Manchester Meadows and Harrison West subdivisions brought their children in and said they wished they had a walkable route from their homes.
“I would love to see a sidewalk down Harrison (Boulevard). It’s such a winding road and so hilly,” said Bill Pendleton, who drive to Grove and Elmhurst avenues with son Parker, 9, to join one of the three groups walking in.
“It’s been fun, plus you kind of meet the neighborhood,” Pendleton said.
He’s participated all fours years Memorial has had the event, starting with his daughter Shea, now in sixth grade.
Connie Bauswell and son Ethan Konkey, 5, parked along Yellowstone Road.
“I wasn’t going to bear Harrison and the golf course, but we walked in, and he liked it,” Bauswell said. “I bet he’ll ask to walk tomorrow, which is alright.”
Although the official Walk or Bike to School Day is Wednesday, event organizer Duane Davison started the official week with the Memorial; Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Mike Berta and two Valparaiso bicycle police officers joined the Grove and Elmhurst group.
More than 25 students and their parents participated.
“It’s a good way to bond with the kids and talk about school,” said Davison, who has walked every day since his son Landon, now in college, went to school.
The goal is to encourage healthy habits, help the environment and ease traffic around schools. It also creates a sense of community, he said.
Sandie and Gerry DiBartolomeo said this event and a close downtown are why they moved from Westville in June with Mark, 10, and Mina, 8.
“We decided we’re walkers. We want to walk everywhere in life,” Sandie said.
Becky Ashcraft admitted she drives Erik, 10, often although she used to walk more with daughter Riana, 12, now in middle school.
Ashcraft gets off work in time to get her children to school, and it’s hectic, she said.
Davison first organized a Walk to School week at Central Elementary School in 2000, and that school will continue the tradition Wednesday.
Davison hopes next year to make it a district-wide event.