Monday, October 6, 2003

Old-fashioned route to school


Walking school bus: Parent is the 'driver'

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

MOUNT LOOKOUT - It's 8:30 a.m. and six Kilgour Elementary students are waiting at the bus stop in high spirits.

Two latecomers arrive and the group is ready to go. But where's the bus? With an about-face, they walk single file - without prodding - into Kyle and Sean McKillop's back yard, file through a narrow wooden gate, down a worn path behind a shed and onto the sidewalk one street over.

These kids didn't miss the bus. They are the bus - a "walking school bus." Their "driver" and chaperone is Kyle and Sean's dad, Jay McKillop, accompanied by, Orbit, the family dog.

"I'm not a health nut," McKillop said. "I'm more interested in my children having a lifestyle that involves activity."

McKillop's walking school bus is one of five parent-driven routes started at Kilgour this year and among a growing number of similar walk-to-school programs nationally aimed at promoting better health through physical activity.

Childhood obesity is causing nationwide concern. The Surgeon General recently reported that the number of overweight adolescents in the United States has nearly tripled, to 14 percent, in the past 20 years.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 13 percent of American children walk or ride bikes to school, compared with more than 66 percent 30 years ago.

Kilgour, a K-6 Cincinnati Public school, is thought to be the only school of 79 in the district with a walking school bus program.

Principal Angela Cook said the concept gives children the opportunity to exercise their bodies as well as their minds.

"We're truly serving the whole child by allowing them to do this," Cook said. "I think it also brings us back to the basic humanity of how we want society to run - where students are not just learning in the school building, but are learning in the community."

Kilgour's program, called Walk2School, was inspired by McKillop, who's been walking or bicycling with his boys one-half mile to school nearly every day for three years.

Besides promoting fitness, program goals are to help families reconnect with their communities, reduce traffic congestion and fight pollution.

McKillop seizes the opportunity for yet another benefit - learning.

"Look, there's that orange car," 8-year-old Eva Patterson said.

"What kind of car is that?" McKillop asked.

"It's old because it looks all damaged and you said last time it was from your day," Eva answered.

"It's a Pontiac Firebird," McKillop said with a laugh.

Go by foot

International Walk to School Day is Wednesday. Kilgour Elementary in Mount Lookout is planning special events for this day.

In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America established Walk to School Day. The partnership is an alliance of organizations that promotes the health and social benefits of walking.

•  For information, go to www.walkableamerica.org

•  To learn more about National Walk to School Day, go to www.walktoschool-usa.org

•  For information about the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, contact Shawna Browne at (919) 962-7803 or e-mail shawna_browne@unc.edu

---

E-mail annag376@aol.com




TOP HEADLINES
Program targets drug pushers
Lockland fights years of decline
AK's woes seem miles away
Retired builder keeps busy as volunteer
Ohio test schedules revised
Old-fashioned route to school

MORE LOCAL NEWS
Medals eyed for Cinergy heroes
Town dedicates refurbished icon
Local man's journey aids Afghan people
Workshops for parents at three city buildings
Miami recalls strike of 1970
West Chester weighs park levy
Regional Report

OHIO HEADLINES
Lower alcohol limit leads to 155 arrests in 2 months
Some religious colleges try to keep roots

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
After murder, neighbors organize a block watch
Residents beg for dog parks
Buyers trying to capture Ky. castle
Catholics try new approach to get cash
Conner expanding suit against Patton
Richmond campus has full classes
Lexington gains reputation as gay haven
Louisville makes progress: fewer summer smog days

OBITUARIES
Curiosity drove John W. Haefele
Fred Marks, 78, worked at Enquirer for 30 years

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...
Sunday's local news report