On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Northwestern student-athletes participated in International Walk to School Day, an event for middle and elementary school students around the world designed to encourage physical activity and combat childhood obesity. Northwestern's women's fencing team gathered on street corners around Dewey Elementary School early this morning to cheer on students taking part in the event by walking or riding their bicycles to school.
"Today was great!" said Alicia Gurrieri, a junior fencer from Medford, N.J. "It was exciting to see kids who were enthusiastic to be going to school on such a beautiful day outside. We cheered them on and I really hope the kids enjoyed it, too."
The event, started in 1997, was spurred on by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign, an initiative designed to increase physical activity and encourage parents to make healthy choices. According to a press release from the city, Evanston students joined 2,233 other schools in the country and 42 other countries around the world in the effort to promote fitness.
"Dewey kids proudly held handmade signs, counted their steps to school, followed safe walking routes designated by the school district, and raced school buses on their final blocks to school," said Event Coordinator Stephanie Fine in an email. "One ambitious kindergartener even dressed up in his very own Dewey tiger costume! Upon arrival at school, students were surprised with tiger paw stickers and Northwestern pencils, both sure to keep the walking topic top of mind for some time."
International Walk To School Day also serves to raise awareness of schools' safe walking routes and environmental benefits due to reduced car trips. During drop-off and pick-up hours, area traffic in Evanston and Skokie increases by an estimated 25 percent, according to the City of Evanston's news release.
"In this global effort to decrease the environmental footprint while improving health and wellness, Dewey students joined children and families worldwide to show the power of unified efforts to improve world and personal health. This has been a topic at the school from some weeks leading up to the event, with teachers and families accessing ideas and resources via walktoschool.org and making up their own fun activities," said Fine.
In an email to parents and students, Superintendent of Schools Hardy Murphy echoed the enthusiasm:
"This year, District 65 has joined with many community partners to collaborate on a variety of initiatives seeking to promote health and wellness in our schools. As the global community continues to get smaller, a gesture like walking to school when executed by thousands of children across the world can have a universal impact."