Parents of Waterman Elementary School students will begin walking to school as a group Feb. 13.
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2012 RMH Community Health Assessment
showed that 34 percent of local children ages 10-17 are less physically active than recommended. The assessment also showed that 24 percent of children watch television three or more hours per day, 18 percent are overweight or obese and 16 percent play video or computer games three or more hours per day.
Becky Johnston, health promotion specialist at RMH Community Health
, works with local schools to increase the number of children and families who safely walk or ride bicycles to and from school.
“By walking or bicycling to school, students can get about 30 minutes of extra physical activity into their day,” Johnston said.
Johnston said this initiative involved the help of many partners, including the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the City of Harrisonburg, Harrisonburg City Schools and the National Partnership of Safe Routes to School (SRTS). SRTS grants provide funding for sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian crossing signals.
In partnership with Waterman Elementary School, Johnston will launch the “Waterman Walkers” student and parent groups that will walk to and from school each Wednesday starting on Feb. 13.
Waterman students and parents are welcome to join either on foot or bicycle Johnnston said. One group will meet at 8:15 a.m. on the corner of Collicello and First Street. Another will meet at 8:15 a.m. at the corner of Hartman Drive and Gay Street. A parent must accompany their child. Walkers are encouraged to wear clothing for varied weather conditions. Students who walk will receive special recognition at school that day.
For additional information, contact Becky Johnston, RMH Community Health, at 540-564-7388 or 540-810-2005.