NORWAY — Two local elementary schools joined schools around the world on Oct. 9 to celebrate International Walk to School Day. Several Walking School Buses transported scores of students safely to Rowe Elementary School in Norway and Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris.

A Walking School Bus is a group of students walking to (and sometimes from) school with one or more adults. Children can meet at a central location to start the bus walk, or join the bus at stops along the route near their homes.

In Norway, approximately 40 students hopped on a Walking School Bus on three routes. Sara Leduc, physical activities coordinator for SAD 17, began to organize the buses in 2012, not only to get more children walking on International Walk to School Day, but also to provide regular opportunities to walk to school in a group.

Last year she coordinated seasonal Walking School Buses that offered students the chance to walk to school every week and had more than 80 children participate.

In the spring, a Walking School Bus will be offered on Wednesdays at the Rowe School. The efforts have been well received by students and parents.

This year was the first time Walking School Buses have organized in West Paris. Agnes Gray Elementary Principal Melanie Ellsworth recognized the potential for many of her students to be walking and decided to pilot a Walking School Bus program.

About 35 students, a significant portion of the small school’s student body, walked to school on three separate routes. The morning was a success, with all students arriving safely and on time.

Walk to School Day events raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment. The events build connections between families, schools and the community.

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