Ellsworth Students Continue ‘Walk to School’ Effort 

It keeps kids healthy and helps the environment. That’s the idea that has kids walking to school across the state, for Maine Walk and Bike to School Week. Organizers hope they can eventually make it easier for students to walk to school every day of the week.”It’s a healthy way to start your day,” says freshman, Taylor Whyte.She and other students in Ellsworth were powering themselves to school Friday morning to celebrate Maine Walk and Bike to School Week.”I walked all the way to school from my friend’s house. It was really good,” says fourth-grader, Lanie Reed.About half the district participated, some kids joining together to make a “walking school bus.”Kelly McKenney is a school health coordinator. She says physical activity makes students better learners. “More walkable communities is our goal,” she says.McKenney tells us these ‘Walk to School’ days also help create better routes for students to get to school on regular days. At their first event this fall, they discovered steps they could take to make their community safer.”We became very aware that it wasn’t safe for our kids to cross Oak Street. And as a result, the city of Ellsworth is applying for some Safe Routes to School money to put a crossing in on Oak Street,” McKenney says.Teachers, parents and people in town volunteered to walk in with students, folks like Phys Ed instructor, Dave Norwood.”We’re encouraging physical activity and we’re also encouraging them to reduce fuel consumption and we’re emphasizing that in school,” Norwood says.”It helps the environment out so the buses and cars and stuff won’t pollute the air,” says eighth-grader, Lydia Jackson.They say more kids walking also helps traffic congestion.”We want kids to walk to school every day, not just for special events,” McKenney says. The students we talked to agreed.”We should do this more often,” says Taylor Whyte.