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Several Schools To Hold Walk-to-School Events Oct. 5

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Several Schools To Hold Walk-to-School Events Oct. 5
Posted on 10/04/2016
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October is International Walk to School Month and Wednesday, Oct. 5, is International Walk to School Day. Portland’s public schools will participate by encouraging students to engage in healthful, active transportation to school this month, whenever possible.

Schools holding special walk-to-school events on Oct. 5 include East End Community School, Lincoln Middle School and Peaks Island Elementary School. Lyseth Elementary School will hold an event on Oct. 14.

On Oct. 5, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling will join with students at Lincoln Middle School to form a Walking School Bus. He’ll meet with students and volunteers at Evergreen Cemetery's main gate on Stevens Avenue at 7:20 a.m. The group will all walk to school, arriving at 7:40 a.m. Then the mayor has been invited to read the morning announcement over the intercom at 7:55 a.m. 

Also on Oct. 5, East End Community School (EECS) is holding an event to encourage its entire student body to walk to school – even students who live far enough away that they need to usually take the bus.

The school has coordinated with the district's transportation department to have buses stop at the corner of Walnut and North streets, where students will disembark about 8:05 a.m. Staff will be greeting students at the designated bus stop, and students who usually walk to school in EECS’ Walking School Bus program will merge with the larger group. Then, said Naila Wissa, the school’s Walking School Bus coordinator, “we will walk together as a school community.”

She said speakers will be set up in front of the school and music will be playing as students arrive. The Maine Red Claws mascot Crusher and the Let’s Go! 5210 mascot, Redy, will be attending and waving to the children. Let’s Go! is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program that supports healthy behaviors in the places where children learn, play and grow.

Peaks Island Elementary School (PIES) plans to have monthly Walk to School Days throughout the school year, beginning with Wednesday, Oct. 5. Local “celebrity” guests will be on site about 8 a.m. at the school to welcome the students, staff and family on their arrival before school starts at 8:20 a.m.

The island "celebrity" on Wednesday will be Stan "The Tree Man" Newell, a local arborist beloved by the island’s children, who also is the husband of the school’s retired lead custodian, Kathy Newell. Stan and Kathy will be on site that morning along with their grandson Emmitt, a future PIES student, and Emmitt's mother, Amanda Newell O’Brien, a PIES alum.  

Lyseth Elementary School will be celebrating on Friday, Oct. 14, with a “Footloose Friday” kickoff. Students who walk or ride their bikes to school on that day will be greeted with special stickers from Safe Routes to School. Students will be encouraged to participate in Footloose Fridays for the remainder of the fall, making plans with their families to walk or bike to school every Friday.

International Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, it began in 1997 as a one-day event. Over time, this event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and thousands of schools across America participate every October. Growing interest in participation all over the world led the International Walk to School Committee to shifts its promotion to International Walk to School Month for the entire month of October.

The success of Walk to School Day, as well as continued interest in bicycling to school, created a desire for a national event focused on bicycling to school. This goal became reality in 2012, when the first National Bike to School Day took place on May 9, in coordination with the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month.

Although Walk to School Day is focused more on walking and Bike to School Day is focused more on bicycling, both days welcome and encourage all forms of active transportation to school. Bike to School Day will be on May 10 in 2017.