From Asian Media Access
MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 4, 2015) — Minneapolis Public Schools Bike/Walk to School Day! It isn’t just a day.
“I only see my kids once a week for 55 minutes, and it’s just not enough time to get the kids fit,” said Nancy Duwenhoegger, physical education teacher, Loring Community School. “So I try and give them tips to take with them at home and live healthy.”
This year October 7th was national bike to school day. Most schools participate but everyone does it a little bit differently and on different days. Thirty-seven MPS schools representing more than 8,000 walkers and bikers participated in walk and bike events in celebration of International Walk to School Day. About half of those who participate do so on this day, while the rest choose a day that works best for the students or weather, Duwenhoegger said.
In answer to the fact that getting these kids fit isn’t “the job of educators”, Duwenhoegger states that “maybe it isn’t, but our kids’ obesity rates are rising and so it is our responsibility. I always equate it to reading. If the kids come for only 55 minutes, how are they going to learn to read? They have to be doing it at home.”
Walk/Bike to school day is a national event, but at Loring Community school they focus on health and wellness year round. So it’s just one more thing they do to promote that for their students. Duwenhoegger said she wrote a grant last year to acquire 20 bikes that the kids can use.
“We added a lap around the track before recess,” she said. “We added morning PE for an extra 20 minutes of PE a week. We have also integrated movement in the classrooms.”
The Loring Community School focus is clear and the efforts are paying off. Now in its third year, the school has designated Wednesdays as a day that some of the teachers walk the bus route No. 6 to the school. The Wednesday walks begin when the school opens in the fall and continue through to the end of November. The walks picks up again the Friday after returning from spring break through the end of the school year.
“Over the years, I see that we have more adults walking with us every Friday,” Duwenhoegger said. “The first year, I had to ask for volunteers to walk with us, and now we just have parents come and walk with us. The kids really like walking with us, and they can either jog or walk. They connect with their friends and get caught up with one another, while releasing all of their energy, and then they are more prepared to study when they get to school.”
The students have come to expect the Friday walks and it fast became a routine school activity. There is a lot of community support for the health and wellness initiative and the bike/walk to school day, she said.
“It’s a great community, but this has given people something more to connect to,” Duwenhoegger said. “For the Wednesday walking school bus it’s just the joy that the kids have walking to school. No one complains. The sounds of the kids walking to school laughing and talking with the people looking out their windows … or coming out to ask us what we are doing. More people are learning about their initiative and inquiring.”
Healthy living is a lifestyle that takes an entire community to create, support, and sustain. Asian Media Access applauds the efforts of people like Nancy Duwenhoegger, Loring Community School, and Minneapolis Public Schools for continued support and efforts to encourage healthy living among our students.