By Laurel House
"I used to walk 5 miles to the bus stop… in the snow… up hill!"
There's so much talk about obesity in kids, but what we often forget is that hard knock life of yesteryear was also a naturally active lifestyle, one that included, yes, walking to school, playing dodge ball during recess, and sports after school, instead of being driven to and from school then playing video games until parents come home, at which point the entire family plops in front of the TV for some high quality brain numbing. Problem with this mass transportation and techo-driven world is that it often results in a sedentary lifestyle which- shocker, makes us fat. Yes, our dependence on polluting transportation is putting both the planet and our health at risk- expanding both our waste (environmental footprint) and waist (pant size).
The battle of the bulge is no longer just an issue for adults. Studies show that children are less active in general with far fewer walking and biking to school- activities that are both weight regulating and green. Well some forward (or maybe backward) thinking parents have concocted an idea that delivers both the convenience of dropping your child off at a bus stop and a little physical activity (for both parents and kids) to help regulate weight gain: a walking school bus.Try Leslie Sansone's "Walking Tip for Beginners" on ExerciseTV. Watch her tips on Walking Power Intervals:
What's a Walking School Bus?
A group of neighborhood children (and a couple of supervising adults) walk together to school, picking each child up along way. Don't worry if you don't have a bus load of kids; even two or three families can figure out convenient meeting places, come up with a route, agree on a time table and a rotating schedule of volunteers, and create your own walking school bus.
If your child prefers to bike ride, take the walking bus concept and create a bicycle train. It's a perfect alternative for families who live slightly further away from school.
How Can You Start A Walking School Bus?
There are a couple of basic things to think about:
1. How many families live close enough to join?
2. Can you create a route that is safe?
3. How much time do you need to give yourself (taking slight tardiness into account) to get to school on time?
4. Will the Walking Bus run both before and after school?
5. Let others know about your Walking Bus-like school officials, community leaders, and law enforcement officers.
The great part is that this isn't just a way to make sure your child gets to school on time, but it's also a bonding opportunity.
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