Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Walking School buses – used in fighting childhood obesity – Taking 50 steps back to go forward again.



When one is of a certain age, one recalls walking to school, in all types of weather, regardless of the cold, rain, sleet or hail, it was a privilege to be able to learn, play and grow. This privilege extended and still extends to all students. Of course, one hears the stories regarding walking 8 miles backward up a hill, and 20 miles back to get back and forth to the schoolhouse across town – and so it was. Now, however, as our lives continue to grow increasingly sedentary, the children today have little in the way of exercise that is not “virtual”. They might play at recess, although most games are banned now due to the hazards of what once was considered childhood play. Few rush to practice sports, but the percentage of “jocks” continues to be miniscule compared to the rest of the student body.

What is a growingly poor, heavy, and left of center school systems to do? Enter the concept of walking to school! – CBS St. Louis reports on a Providence RI school system, which is one of many, that employs “walking school buses”. The concept is an adult, acts as a chaperone for children on a walking tour, complete with a bit of interventional mothering, to and from the home. The upshot, the children get exercise, and the attendance goes up.. Novel concept, is it not?

History is relative. Fifty years ago, children walked to and fro school, played at recess, played at sports after recess, played in the woods if living in the country, or played pickup on the sidewalks of the city. A generation of lean and happy little tykes who were the best and the brightest in the world. Much as occurred in the intervening years, and so, with an eye toward progressively blending all, and insuring that no student felt “left out” either academically or athletically, the homogenization of the entire nation began – and the effect, less knowledgeable and certainly less athletic. One must understand that by walking these students, the salary of one guide over the costs of a bus and drive should be taken into consideration. Also to consider is the benefit to those students fortunate enough to go back in time so to speak. The sad part is that now, with the real danger of city streets, or country streets for that matter, students and parents might hesitate to let their child go it alone. Of course, were the prison system similar to that long ago age referred to, this would not be an issue.

Where so much was wrong regarding the institutions of the eelier period (from juvenile detention facilities to the asylums where those with anger issues stemming from mental illness were isolated from the general society – another cause and effect story), but now, with the improvements that have been made to such a compassionate and knowledgeable progressive society, one might think those old institutions might be employed once again, careful not to infringe on the comforts of those whose stay might either benefit the individual or the society. Memory serves, and those students who may have acted out fifty years ago, refrained from doing so, in order to avoid the “goal”, and continue to play hard at recess and walk to and fro school.

Looks like a step in the right direction.

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