Abbie Hamburger, 10, and her mother Mary Beth walk with their dog Sam to Arcado Elementary School in Lilburn on International Walk to School Day in Lilburn Wednesday. The more than 100 students mostly accompanied by parents walked and biked to school, celebrating health and wellness, safe routes and pedestrian skills, as well as the environmental benefits of walking to school. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
Gwinnett students participate in International Walk to School Day
Joellen Wilson the chair person for the Environmental Committee at Arcado Elementary School talks about the more than 100 students from Arcado Elementary in Lilburn who joined schools from around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day Wednesday.
LILBURN — Kennedy Randle loves walking to school, especially when she finds a weird-looking caterpillar, which may have a stinger.
“I had to watch out,” said Randle, a fourth-grader at Arcado Elementary, “because I didn’t know if it was poisonous, or if it could hurt me.”
With about 100 of her classmates on Wednesday, Randle walked to school to participate in the International Walk to School Day, which promotes pedestrain safety, environmental benefits and a healthy and active lifestyle. She’s participated each year since she was in kindergarten.
Randle’s father, Andrew, said at least eight students rode their bikes to Arcado, as the school had kids walking in from nearly every direction. When the students arrived, they received a sticker, and many signed a poster that read “Reducing our Carbon Pawprint” as the event also promoted anti-idling for car riders.
“It’s really fun to see so many things you’ve never seen before,” Kennedy Randle said, referring to the caterpillar. “I think that it should happen everywhere because it’s good to drive sometimes, but not all the time. Walking is good too, it can help you boost up your energy.”
Schools across Gwinnett also participated in the Walk to School event, including Camp Creek Elementary, Craig Elementary, Fort Daniel Elementary, Roberts Elementary and Parsons Elementary.
Arcado students were given a card that teachers promised would lead to a pedometer if they walked to school 10 times. There was also a visit from Captain Planet, who posed for pictures.
Ryan Moore’s children, second-grader Erin and fourth-grader Riley, each walked to school, and looked forward to the experience because they walked with their neighbors.
“We participate in it every year and we support it, the more walking, the better,” Moore said. “It’s good exercise, reduces gas consumption, reduces emissions. It gives you a chance to run into your neighbors, and talk to them a little bit.”
Members of the Lilburn Police Department also supported the event, and said the number of walkers to Arcado was higher than usual. Officer Cody Belcher said it gave them a chance to build relationships with the kids, and offer safety tips around roads and cars so kids to look forward to walking to school.
“These programs certainly foster that attitude,” Lilburn Police Lt. C. Dusik said. “They enjoy it; it’s something different.”
Nancy Aulenbach, a parent volunteer for the event who walked with her fifth-grade daughter Scout, said they picked up some middle school neighbors along the way, and most of their neighbors participated in the event. Aulenbach said the majority of the 1,100 or so students at Arcado live within walking distance, and it’s something they cherish because it isn’t the same in middle school.
“We hope today, and other days like today will encourage more walkers and realize there are a lot of good benefits,” Aulenbach said. “A good way to really establish that community bond. There’s really no reason to pollute the air with driving.”
Scout even said she enjoyed waking up early.
“I can get my work done easier,” she said. “It really clears my mind and if I’m having a test, I can study while I’m walking.”
Andrew Randle, Kennedy’s father, volunteered behind the school on Wednesday morning, and told Kennedy and her younger sister, Aris, that they should begin habits to get involved at a young age.
“Doing things like this,” he said, “is good for the community, is good for the kids and good for the school.”