Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi joined students and staff at Millwood Public School’s for National Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Staff from the Oklahoma City County Health Department also took part in the walk.
“When children have a chance to exercise, it helps improve their focus on their studies,” Barresi said.
“Our goal in helping the whole child. Plus, we just had so much fun out there, and the first thing something like this teaches children is that physical activity is fun.”
Barresi used the walking time to talk to Millwood students and ask about their favorite areas of study. She encouraged the youngsters to work hard in school, telling them that with a good education they could do anything they wanted in life.
Barresi said she is working with directors at the state Health and Mental Health departments to avoid areas of duplication of services and to leverage their dollars so they are able to serve more people with available funds.
Millwood’s prekindergarten through 8th-grade school principal, Andrea Wheeler, said about 650 students attend the school, coming from about a 10-mile radius. While students didn’t actually walk from home to school Wednesday, they did walk around the school’s track and through a large field to get their morning exercise.
School resource officers from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office blocked traffic in the parking lots at the school to ensure safety during the walk.
Gary Cox, director of the Oklahoma City County Health Department, said studies show the walking to school is effective in reducing childhood obesity and it also tightens the bonds of a school community.
“There’s pretty powerful evidence that Walk to School works,” Cox said.
He said the challenge for Oklahoma County is to get more sidewalks and safe places for children to walk.