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Arcado students, parents walk to school

Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Students Savannah Vess, 6, Marquis Baeszler, 6, Teresa Colatosti, Liza Vess, 9, and Ellie Leatham, 9, brave the cold weather while participating in Walk to School Day at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn Wednesday. About 50 students walked to school with weather in the low 30's to bring awareness to a clean and green environment as well as staying active. Fletch Vess and Heather Becker accompanied the group of eight students which also included Brieanne Becker, 8, Sofia Beaszler, 8, and Sofie Garrett, 8.

Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Students Savannah Vess, 6, Marquis Baeszler, 6, Teresa Colatosti, Liza Vess, 9, and Ellie Leatham, 9, brave the cold weather while participating in Walk to School Day at Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn Wednesday. About 50 students walked to school with weather in the low 30's to bring awareness to a clean and green environment as well as staying active. Fletch Vess and Heather Becker accompanied the group of eight students which also included Brieanne Becker, 8, Sofia Beaszler, 8, and Sofie Garrett, 8.

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Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Fourth graders Scout Aulenbach, 10, Abby Hart, 10, and Erica Marlette, 9, ask motorists not to idle their cars during Walk to School Day at Arcado Elementary in Lilburn Wednesday.

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Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Father Nasir Hussain, daughter Huda, 7, and son Ahmed, 10, brave the cold weather while participating in Walk to School Day at Arcado Elementary in Lilburn Wednesday.

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Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Four graders Jasmine Udeshi, 10, Maggie Nguyen, 10, Erica Marlette, 9, Abby Hart, 10 and Scout Aulenbach, 10, sign a poster for those who participated in Walk to School Day at Arcado Elementary in Lilburn Wednesday.

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Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Allie Gray, 6, holds up a "Walk to School" sign for passing motorist during the state wide Walk to School Day at Arcado Elementary in Lilburn Wednesday.

LILBURN -- Snowflakes swirled in the breeze as moms, dads, sons and daughters walked -- cold faces blushing from icy winds.

The weather worked against them Wednesday morning, said Nancy Aulenbach, who helped with "Walk and Roll" at Arcado Elementary School.

"But it didn't stop them," said Aulenbach, a volunteer with the school's PTA. "Considering how cold it is, I'd say we had a pretty amazing turnout."

Despite a 19-degree wind chill, nearly 50 students walked with their parents for the annual initiative. As part of Walk to School Day Georgia, organizers of the local event asked parents to celebrate health and wellness as well as the environmental benefits by jaunting with their young ones.

For many, it was also a good opportunity to bond with their children.

Cindy Lubowicki and daughter Lydia Gould, 8, walked for about seven minutes.

"It gives her and I time to spend together," Lubowicki said. "That's always great."

Fred Phillips walked with son, Jeremiah, 7.

"It's talk time," the father said. "And it's good exercises. We try to do this as much as possible."

Christina Mesh and daughter, Cassie, 10, enjoyed the exercise component too, they said.

According to Alicia Hatcher with Georgia Safe Routes to School, that's the idea.

"It gives them the opportunity to get a little exercise," Hatcher said. "It's good for them."

The program is one of the sponsors of Walk to School Georgia.

Aulenbach said the walk to school initiative sends two messages to the community: "that it's healthy to walk to school ... and it reduces the carbon footprint."

Volunteers like Aulenbach welcomed parents and children to the school with stickers and prizes to show their appreciation.

Morning walkers and cyclists were featured on the school's morning news show, and all participants got to sign their names on a large carbon footprint banner, which will hang in the school.

Upon entering the heated school building, six-year-old Sachin Udeshi signed his name on the banner.

Udeshi handed the dry-erase marker back to a volunteer. "It's cold out there," the boy said, rubbing his hands together. "It was snowing a lot."

According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, the area saw temperatures in the lower 30s Wednesday morning, with wind gusts as high as 40 mph.

Assistant Principal Kristina Jackson said it was a testament to the school's community spirit that so many braved the chilly weather conditions.

"I love this," Jackson said. "Seeing kids paired up with their parents, ditching the cars, walking, getting exercise, it makes me happy."

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