MIDDLEBURY — The Safe Routes to School Team at Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary School encourages students to get rid of winter blahs and try a winter walk on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
“Mary Hogan hosts annual walk and bike to school days on the first Wednesday of October and May. We thought it would be fun to join schools across the nation and Canada in adding a winter walk to school day event,” said Safe Routes to School Coordinator Laura Asermily. “Weather can interfere with walking to school. This event lets families play with overcoming that barrier.”
Winter Walk Day started in Canada and is promoted by Safe Routes to School, an international organization that advocates for reducing the barriers to and encouraging walking and biking to schools. Any schools or individuals can participate in this event.
“Studies show that students who arrive exercised from walking and biking to school perform better on tasks demanding concentration and that the effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school,” Asermily said. “This study and tips are posted on the Safe Routes to School bulletin board in the Mary Hogan main hallway.”
Mary Hogan Safe Routes to School Team adult volunteers, including the “Yellow Banana,” will be on hand at downtown crosswalks along busy Court and Cross streets and at the Recreation Park to monitor safety and greet walkers during the morning commute starting at 7:45 a.m. Parents may drop off children at points such as Shaw’s and other parking lots to allow their children to participate in the event and receive a sticker.
“Lots of parents drive their kids to school because walking and biking on streets designed for cars makes the journey dangerous for anyone, especially children,” Asermily said. “We addressed this in our Mary Hogan School Transportation Plan.”
Tips for Dressing For Winter Walking
• Keep hands and head covered to prevent heat loss
• On really cold days wear a scarf over your face and mouth
• Wear warm, waterproof boots
• Use Yaktrax or snowshoes on icy walkways
• Wear a warm coat that deflects the wind
• Woolen clothing helps to retain the heat
• Wear clothing or carry knapsacks with reflective material — it’s important to be seen
• If possible, change wet clothes at school — tuck an extra pair of socks and mitts into knapsacks