Students at Lincoln Park Middle School are starting their Wednesdays with a short jolt of exercise. Students, family, staff and community partners are walking to school every Wednesday morning during the month of May. So far, about a dozen walkers have met at Harrison Park on Third Street at 8 a.m. to walk to school together.
"Walking is essential to life," said Josh Gorham, a public health nurse with St. Louis County. "Walking is an activity that promotes not only physical health, but also mental well-being. The benefits are not just related to health. There can be positive impacts in the classroom as well. Research has shown that students who have opportunities to move before being in class are better able to focus in the classroom."
Walk to School Wednesdays are a part of Lincoln Park Middle School's Safe Routes to School Program, a collaborative effort between the school and St. Louis County Public Health, made possible through Healthy Northland and the Minnesota Department of Health's Statewide Health Improvement Partnership.
Rachel Thapa, community school coordinator at Lincoln Park, said the program is designed to get students engaged with the community surrounding their school.
"Students, teachers, staff, family members, community leaders, elected officials and neighbors come together for a positive shared experience," Thapa said. "This event brings people together to enjoy each other's presence while engaging in safe, healthy activities within their community."
This week students were joined by Superintendent Bill Gronseth and the Lincoln Park Wildcat mascot on their walk. Mayor Emily Larson was scheduled to join the students, but had another commitment arise on the day.
"It's good for the students to engage with their leaders in this way," Thapa said. "They feel included in the journey."
Student Jocelyn Ball said she normally walks to school with just her sister, Caelin.
"There's more people so it goes a little quicker," Ball said.