Students at BES find joys of exercise with pilot program

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Last Wednesday, some 75 Bedford Elementary students walked to school—up hill, both ways, in a foot of snow.


    OK, maybe it wasn’t both ways and it was way too warm for snow.
    But they still walked as much as a mile and a half, and a good part was up a hill or two.
    The pilot project was called the Walking School  Bus  and   was   sponsored  by   theschool’s PTA. Students, parents and even some school administration employees joined in the walk, which had three routes.
    The Walking School Bus consisted of a group of students walking single-file to school with adult volunteers walking along as the “Bus Drivers” to ensure the students’ safe and timely arrival to school.  The purpose was to allow a fun opportunity for kids to get some exercise before school. School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch was among the adults participating.
    For Bedford Elementary, it served as an extension of the school’s already successful morning walking program.
    “We’re trying to keep our kids eating healthy and moving,” stated Mary Jo Boone, president of the school’s PTA and executive director at Bedford’s YMCA. “It’s an awesome way to start the day.”
    The school’s walking program has been in place for six years and Boone hopes that the Walking School Bus will become a regular feature for the school next year. She also hopes that the program will spread to other county schools.
    Third graders Brooke Laughlin, Ariana Salinas and Josh Sensenig all said the enjoyed the morning’s walk.
    “It’s fun,” Ariana said.
    “It’s a good thing to do,” added Brooke, “so you can stay in shape.”
    “You get a lot of exercise,” added Josh, “so you can be strong.”
    The students walked their routes, which included the final climb up Tiger Trail to the school, on sidewalks. The Bedford Police Department assisted by providing officers at intersections for traffic control.
    The “bus drivers” wore bright safety vests and were positioned for safety in the front, middle and back of the “bus.” Students had to sign up for the event.
    The routes included one that started at Bedford Primary School, one that started at Raintree Apartments and one that began at the Farmers Market. The children began the walk around 7 a.m.
    Boone said while it appeared to be a long walk from the Primary School to BES, once the group got started it wasn’t as far as it seemed. Having the city’s sidewalks to use, helped.
    “We certainly hope to do it on a more regular basis,” she said of the Walk. “I was really excited about the turnout.”