The Horace Mann Elementary School has gotten involved in an international initiative, informing parents and students that walking to school each morning, rather than using their vehicles, might promote bonding and make a green impact on the world.
The school’s parent teacher association, located on 83rd Street, organized the event on Oct. 6. The initiative asks communities nationally to walk and bike to school, and involved more than 3,200 schools.
Now in its 13th year, “Walk to School Day” has also joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign and is coordinated in part by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. The “day” celebrated across the world.
PTA President Kenia Ortiz said she was advised by the state PTA of the activity before approaching Principal Jorge Prado for approval. Due to the often crowded traffic conditions and the belief that walking could help kids develop healthier habits, both believed the school should be involved.
“It also helps with our environment and you use less cars and less fuel.” – Brian Acosta
Every morning Ian walks to his friend Brian Acosta’s house. The duo sometimes studies there or “hangs out” before continuing to school.
“It also helps with our environment and you use less cars and less fuel,” said Brian, also in sixth grade.
Acosta and Ortiz thought it would make their community even safer if more parents walked with their children to school rather than cause “commotion” with their cars.
Prado praised Ortiz and the PTA on the event, which alerted parents through letters. The PTA, as well as a few students, held signs and banners outside of the school that morning alerting parents of the event.
Prado said that some of the students aren’t sure what their parents do for a living. Often their parents are exhausted after getting out of work. He thinks taking the morning walk would give them a few minutes to share time with one another.
Ortiz admits there was a time when she got “very comfortable” and would drive her children to school, even though they only live three blocks away. Now she says her son has an opportunity to bond with his friends, while she gets quality time with her 8-year-old daughter Elenie.
Students of the school live in the square mile surrounding it. Prado said that people just get used to driving their cars.
When asked if Prado walks to school himself, he said that he sometimes does.
“I’m a firm believer in walking,” he said, explaining that he often walks two miles before arriving in the morning.
Making a positive impact
Traffic, partially due to construction on a nearby street, was badly backed up surrounding the school.
“Anything that we can do to help foster less traffic in the area is good, so this makes the children know that it’s healthy to walk,” said Ortiz. “It’s something for them to do with their friends before they go to school.”
Prado hoped that the event would be held at other nearby schools.
Ian and Brian thought that maybe they could even convince their other classmates to join them. Ian thought about hanging a banner outside of his home alerting people of the important of walking.
As Jenni Haemmerle watched her son walked to school, and her daughter wait with friends for their trek up the block, she saw that PTA’s actions as positive.
“Less gas, no traffic, no frustration,” she said. “All of them are positive.”
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.