Nine years ago when my husband and I were house-hunting, we knew what neighborhood we wanted to live in. It’s near downtown, but houses are on nice-sized lots with mature oak and pecan trees, and the neighborhood elementary school has an excellent reputation.
I knew then that it would be nice to live within walking distance of the school, as it is surrounded by a large city park and has several playscapes, too. It wasn’t until I actually had a child in school that I learned just how nice it is to be able to skip the carpool rodeo every day and simply walk down the street for drop off and pick up.
I love the walk to school. Not only do I get an extra mile of walking on days I do both drop off and pick up, but I love having that time to chat with my kids, unencumbered by the responsibility of driving. It’s really cherished time, as my boys are both talkers and they know they have my undivided attention as we walk.
As you can see from the above photo that I took on our walk home one afternoon last week, there are no other kids walking home from school. Our neighborhood is packed with kids who attend the local elementary school, but for various reasons there are very few walkers. Perhaps if the City of Austin would answer my nearly nine-year-old plea to add a sidewalk to our street, more kids would walk. Furthermore, some parents who have just dropped off (or picked up) their own children don’t drive as courteously as I wish they would– especially with all of the parked cars we navigate around.
The school’s environmental club launched a campaign to encourage walking to school. Walk Over On Fridays is one way to raise awareness of the opportunity to decrease use of fossil fuels by increasing people power. WOOF (a play on the school’s Scottie Dog mascot) has had decent success so far in this young school year. I have offered to walk any friends of my kids who want to hoof it to school with us on Friday mornings. The kids also learn that there is some great socializing opportunities as you walk to school, such as chatting with friends who are getting out of their cars and befriending the crossing guard. These may seem like little things, but it builds community.
Good for the body, good for the earth, good for the community….I’d hate to think that walking to school is a thing of the past.
Do your kids walk to school? Do you wish they did?
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