By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Students from Henderson Ward Stewart and Armstrong Middle School skipped the carpool and the bus stop yesterday to celebrate International Walk to School Day.
“People in 40 countries are walking to school today, millions and millions of people. We’re one of the more than 3,000 walks that are happening just in the U.S. in the month of October,” Lois Connington, a Starkville in Motion member, said. “We’ve been doing this since 2007.”
Students, parents and volunteers met at Cadence Bank on Main Street at 7 a.m. and walked in groups to the two school campuses. The students carried signs to encourage people to come walk with them.
The annual event is coordinated by Starkville in Motion to encourage children and families to be active. The organization received a large Safe Routes to School grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation several years ago, most of which will be used to build a contiguous sidewalk from Avenue of Patriots to Armstrong Middle School, which will give many students a safe way to walk to school.
“The rest of the money is for education and encouragement programs to get people walking once we have the infrastructure,” Connington said.
There are several sidewalk and bike lane projects in the works around the city, and Connington said she hoped students could start walking or riding their bikes to school every day.
“When the infrastructure is built, we’ll really start getting the word out, getting people to use the sidewalks and staring walking school bus programs — that’s where parents walk the kids to school, but it’s like a school bus because you stop at each driveway in your neighborhood and the adults take turns walking the kids to school,” she said. “Now that we have bike lanes open, we hope to get bike trains going — the same thing, with an adult leading the kids to school.”