This isn't the first year that Community Consolidated School District 146 has participated in International Walk to School Day, which is Wednesday. While it's too early to call it a tradition, the day has become another way for the district to promote healthy habits among students, faculty and even the community.
"I think we're at the leading edge of this," said Ron Vandewiel, a PE teacher at Kruse Education Center who is also the coordinator for the District 146 Gets Fit wellness program. "We've pushed a lot of programs with (the Gets Fit initiative)."
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On Wednesday, Oct. 3, District 146 students and staff are encouraged to walk or ride bikes to and from their schools if they live close enough, instead of driving or taking other forms of transportation. Administrators, residents and Tinley Park leaders, including Mayor Ed Zabrocki, will be joining the students in the morning, making the same trek by foot to different schools. Times and routes haven't been finalized.
And students who don't live close to their schools won't be left out, Vandewiel said.
"For the kids who can't walk to school, we're going to have them walk around during recess," he added. "Everyone is going to walk."
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In fact, teachers who don't live nearby will be parking their cars at certain locations about a mile away from their schools so that they will be able to participate, Vandewiel said.
Activities like Wednesday's event are just a part of what the district is trying to do with its wellness program, which began about two years ago. Ultimately, the goal is to train kids and adults to make healthy choices in their lives when it comes to eating and exercise. To that end, Vandewiel and the wellness committee responsible for the District 146 Gets Fit program have modified the lunch program, created a pedometer walking initiative for teachers and increased PE and recess times.
"We believe it is not our responsibility to cure childhood obesity, but it is our duty to not contribute to it," Vandewiel said. "By implementing policy and programs that support good health, we will accomplish this mission."
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