Winchester Students Celebrate International Walk to School Day

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, students from Pearson Middle School and Hinsdale Elementary School in Winsted will start their day at the wrong school. No, they’re not confused – they’ll be taking part in a “Reverse Walk” as part of International Walk to School Day, in partnership with the Winsted YMCA.
Principal Matt O’Connell has been a perennial advocate of these walking programs. “Over the past couple of years, our walking events with the Y have been very positive and well-received by the kids. And when they see school and community leaders, such as their principal and the superintendent walking with them, it sets a
great example.”
Pearson students will be dropped off by school bus and car at Hinsdale school at their normal time, and will be joined by teachers, school staff, and YMCA and community leaders for the half-mile walk to their school. A short while later, Hinsdale students will be dropped off at Pearson school for the opposite walk to their own school, once again chaperoned by their teachers and others. Parents are welcomed to join in the walk.
According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, 20 Connecticut schools participated in 2012, with more than 4,000 nationally. The initiative is an effort to promote walking to school as a safe and healthy way to reintroduce physical
activity into children’s daily lives.
For a variety of reasons, a relatively small number of students walk to school regularly, adding to the sedentary time that children these days are already experiencing. With tv, video games, computers and other electronics dominating their days and keeping them indoors, kids rarely get the natural, outdoor exercise
that adults recall from their own youth. Author Richard Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” in his book, Last Child in the Woods, to call attention to this growing problem that is contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.
With the Reverse Walk as a kick-off, the YMCA will then begin its weekly “walking school bus” program, supervising children as they walk from the Y to school, and picking up additional walkers along the way at various “stops”. While the weekly walking program is free, students must register in advance at the Y and be
dropped off in time for the short walk so as not to be late for school. As an additional option, for a small fee children can sign up to get to the Y an hour earlier for supervised swimming and sports activities, followed by the walk to school.
The Y is committed to building strong communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and believes that encouraging physical activity in children promotes lifelong healthy habits. To learn more about the Y or the walk to school program, visit the Y’s web site,, or call 860-


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