“Walktober” at Laurelhurst

Laurelhurst Elementary has one of the largest and longest-running walk and bike to school programs in Seattle. Parent volunteers have been at this for a long time, and have a good sense for what it takes to create excitement and get more kids to school under their own power. Once again, they have started right at the beginning of the school year.

The whole school took a walk…
together with Charlie the Chicken!

Laurelhurst has a tradition of celebrating “Walktober,” a month-long campaign they run in conjunction with International Walk to School Month. Organizers have found that getting families started thinking about transportation early in the year can help them “get off on the right foot” and develop good habits that can last throughout the year and beyond.

Laurelhurst’s Walktober program helps families establish a habit of walking, biking, scootering, or taking the bus to school early in the school year.  The program has not only helped develop sustainable habits, but also increased kids’ awareness of the importance of daily activity.

Laurelhurst typically begins the month with a kickoff event. This year the event included an assembly followed by an all-school walk around the school grounds, with the kindergarten classes leading the way. This is the first time they’ve started the month with an all-school event like this, and it was a huge success. What better way to educate kids about the fun of getting around under your own power than a walk with hundreds of friends and classmates?

Kicking things off with an assembly

The Walktober assembly included an entertaining and informative skit with “Charlie the Chicken” that was educational and well received by the students and staff. It turns out that Charlie is pretty funny. He can also ride a bike, a scooter, and even a unicycle. And reportedly he can dance too.

Not surprisingly, a large chicken with all those tricks plus a little knowledge about the benefits of walking and biking to school ends up being quite a hit with the kids and their parents. In fact, organizers heard from many parents after the assembly that their child came home from school and said, “We have to do Walktober!” Generating enthusiasm and a culture where the kids are pushing the parents to let them walk or bike is such a key to a successful program.

For the kickoff event, Laurelhurst had strong support from Feet First, and the children all received a tracking calendar and a healthy snack of fresh organic apples donated to the school from Metropolitan Market.

The rest of the month included more walk to school events such as meet-ups at local bakeries to walk to school as a group, culminating in an upcoming final celebration this Friday. The kids have been tracking their trips and looking forward to some recognition and prizes. There’s nothing like a little good-old-fashioned competition to get more kids walking. No word yet on how many kids have participated this year, but in the past they’ve had as many as 150 to 190 students join the fun! (Quick update — over 160 kids participated this year!)

Laurelhurst has had a fantastic walk and bike to school program for many years, so it’s fun to hear how it continues to grow and thrive! Way to go Laurelhurst!

Mmmm, yummy healthy treats.