Huntsville, Alabama: PTA Members take charge of Walk to School Day

Introduction

The Parent Teachers Association (PTA) at Challenger Elementary School in Huntsville, Ala., has organized Walk to School Day in conjunction with International Walk to School Day for five years. Through the PTA’s efforts, the children learn the importance of physical activity and a healthy diet.

Activities

Challenger Elementary is a neighborhood school with most of the students living within walking distance. The school has a few buses to transport those students who live too far from school to walk or bicycle. Although the majority of the 563 students at Challenger Elementary live within walking distance, most of the students are driven to and from school. To encourage the students to take advantage of the school’s proximity, Challenger Elementary holds its Walk to School Day on the first Wednesday in October to coincide with International Walk to School Day. To promote the event to the students and parents, the PTA members advertise the upcoming event in the monthly newspaper, design posters to be hung on classroom doors and send notes home to the parents. There also is a coloring contest using the images off the IWalk Web site (www.iwalktoschool.org). Contest judges select a winner from each grade, and that student wins an ice cream gift card.

To further pique students’ interest in Walk to School Day, the PTA organizes another competition in which the class from each grade with the most student walkers wins a pizza party. On Walk to School Day, some of the students meet at a nearby church and walk to school from there, while others walk from their homes to school. A crossing guard helps the students to cross the street, and when the students arrive to school, a healthy snack awaits them. The Walk to School Day prizes and food are provided by the PTA and by donations from local businesses.

In addition to participating in Walk to School Day, Challenger Elementary has a bicycle and pedestrian safety course for the second graders. These safety lessons are incorporated into the physical education curriculum, and the students bring their bicycles into class for the physical education teacher to teach them proper bicycle procedures, such as hand turn signals.

Milestones

During the fall 2007 Walk to School Day event, more than 50 percent of the students at Challenger Elementary participated. The PTA at Challenger Elementary will continue to promote Walk to School Day and the importance of a healthy lifestyle to its children.

Contact

Michelle Roth
Walk-to-School Coordinator, Parent Teachers Association
Challenger Elementary School
13555 Chaney Thompson Road
Huntsville, AL 35803
Phone: (256) 428-7060
Email: mjroth@knology.net