Stop The Presses! Kids Walk To School!

Though this sounds like the lead sentence of an Onion article, it’s true:

“200 or so children walked to school this morning.”

Walk to School 1

The King’s Highway Elementary youngsters were joined by staff members and parents (plus “Paws,” the school mascot). Police officers were on hand too.

Jamie Viesselman — a KHS phys ed teacher — organized the event, as part of “International Walk to School Day.” Apparently, not walking to school is not  limited only to Westport, or even the US.

Walk to School 2

The walk began at the Westport Board of Ed technology center on Riverside Avenue, and continued up Burr Road to the school. That’s not too far — but then again, it’s further than most kids these days walk to school.

Walk to School 3

Each student who participated received a certificate, and orange shoe laces.

As for the orange school buses: They’ll probably be filled again tomorrow.

(Photos by David Gusitsch)

(Photos by David Gusitsch)

15 responses to “Stop The Presses! Kids Walk To School!

  1. This is great. I grew up on Pleasant Valley Lane off North Ave so I walked to Staples every day but even when I was younger a few times I walked all the way to Coleytown Middle.

  2. I’m a huge fan of walking to school, but a two things give me pause. One is that I see way too many cars going way too fast on local streets (those Westport Police speeding monitors are placed on the roads for a reason); and the second is the lack of consistent sidewalks.

    When I run, I take note of areas where I feel it’s not safe to be running due to dangerous or hidden turns due to overgrown bushes. I would love to see more sidewalks that would be accommodating for runners, walkers, and strollers. But of course I realize that it would come at a cost to the town, but I would love to know if it has ever come up in P&Z meetings (or the appropriate Town Hall department).

  3. Roseanne Levy

    More sidewalks would really make Westport better.

    • True, there are not a lot of sidewalks. But there are some — for example, on the west side of North Avenue. Often, though, they are not used. The number of walkers and joggers who use the road — when sidewalks are available — is staggering.

  4. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Only time I ever got a bus to school in Westport was for the time I attended Greens Farms School. After that it was walking to Long Lots and Staples. We lived 1.8 miles from Staples. Luckily, I rode with my sister who drove. She was two years older than me. Then when she went to college I got the car. Today I walk my granddaughter to school every day in Fairfield. The distance from our home to her school is 3/4 of a mile. I think that is a lot for a kindergarten child but, she loves to walk and we are joined by many neighborhood children and parents. It is a most enjoyable part of my day:)

  5. Marcy Anson Fralick

    I walked from Morningside Lane to Burr Farms, then to Long Lots, and finally to Staples. The bus radius for Staples was 2 miles, and I was just inside that radius, so I walked, regardless of the weather.

  6. Hey Dan,
    Thanks for the coverage. One of the reasons for International Walk to School Day (besides promoting physical activity in children) is to encourage more children to start actually walking to and from school and make people aware of whether there actually are safe sidewalks for children to walk or bike to school. Hopefully by doing events like these, towns may recognize the need to build more sidewalks. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many sidewalks or safe routes for children to take to school.

  7. Nancy, perhaps you can answer this: what exactly are the young kids taking to school that requires a good-sized backpack? I don’t remember carrying that much to school at such a young age but my memory could be off. I do remember bringing sandwiches to school in my lunchbox.

  8. Tom Allen '66

    Fred, my daughters walked to school in the 2000’s wearing backpacks that weighed a ton. What was in them? Almost nothing that was related to school activities. Every couple of weeks, my wife and I dumped out the contents and had the girls start over. On a related note, my younger daughter graduated from HS here in NY in 2012. Carried almost nothing to school, and she was a good student. Books were for use at home and another set never left the classroom. I showed her a couple of photos in my ’66 Staples yearbook of girls and guys lugging loads of books. Her response: “Lame.”

  9. Tom Allen '66

    International Walk to School Day is clearly a good thing, but is a novelty that none of us of a certain could have envisioned. I walked or rode a bike to/from Saugatuck El and sometimes ran all the way with my gang of pals from Indian Hill and Sunrise–through station traffic. Walked along Riverside to BJHS. Never thought twice about it. Hitched home from Staples after football/track practice when my cruddy car was broken down, which was often, and to/from Compo. But the latter is a subject for another blog post.

  10. David J Loffredo

    Nice shots of kids walking on sidewalks, you should have seen how many of them had to walk on the street to get to the sidewalks. In a town filled with small women driving large SUV’s, and distracted drivers of all shapes and sizes weaving all over the place barely missing the bikers and the joggers, I’d much rather have my 5th grader on a bus (with seat belts would be nice) than trying to avoid getting hit by the people in this town.

  11. Depending on where you live, this International “event” is a day, a week, or a month.
    Depending on where you live, it makes sense or no sense.

  12. By the way, the idea of being rewarded for this event reminds me of today’s sports/field days, when everyone gets a ribbon, little league/soccer, etc. when everyone gets a trophy. Sense, or nonsense?

  13. Do any kids ride bicycles to school? I rode a bike from grade 4 thru 12, tho by the senior year my English bicycle looked pretty lonely out by the wall. We didn’t have backpacks. I think those are awful and not healthy. In these pictures the kids look happy and free, but I might agree with the writer who worried about Westport’s “distracted drivers.”

  14. Dan Lasley (Laz)

    My daughter asked to be able to ride home from Staples, so I would drive her and her bike to school in the morning, and she would ride home in the afternoon. She would make several stops along the way. Since we lived in Saugatuck Shores, she crossed the entire town several times a week. This was in 2008.