True to our belief that support from all stakeholders—town and district officials, school administrators and staff, classroom teachers, parents and children—is essential to the success of Yantacaw Walks, we have been applying all of our efforts to engage everyone in our shared mission. In the process, we have been encouraged and inspired by the enthusiasm Yantacaw Walks has generated as we move toward our April 23rd kickoff, the first of our Walk-to-School Wednesdays featuring a walking parade, local celebrity guests, giveaways, and lots of community spirit.
Our mission is a simple one on its surface: get more Nutley students to walk to school, beginning with Yantacaw Elementary School students and graduating Yantacaw 6th graders who will start walking to the middle school in September 2014.
The challenge, however, lies in the cultural shift that this represents. While driving to school may seem easier and more convenient—and at times it may be—it is a false economy. Not only is time wasted in traffic that inevitably forms around the morning rush to school, but even more importantly, the health benefits driving forgoes are significant.
Yantacaw Walks Executive Advisor Dr. Richard Jackson returned to Nutley on March 18th to give a talk sponsored by the Nutley Community Preservation Partnership and the Nutley Public Library in honor of the Library’s 100th anniversary. Dr. Jackson, who is a pediatrician and leading public health expert, emphasized to our community the substantial positive impact on health of making physical activity a regular part of daily life. Walking to and from school is a perfect opportunity.
Yantacaw Walks wants to make sure as many of our children as possible take advantage of this quick and easy way to improve their health and well-being. One of our key initiatives brings healthy competition as well as teacher and peer expectations squarely into the mix.
The Yantacaw Walks Classroom Challenge is a 7-week competition to see which class in each grade K-6 can log the most walks to and from school. Children can pledge to walk to school at any time during the challenge, and every walk counts toward earning their class prizes and recognition. Our amazing school team—comprised of our principal, school nurse, gym teacher, and two classroom teachers—has helped us devise a fun, easy way to log walks and will be our biggest asset in generating buzz and participation.
We’re thrilled to report that Yantacaw Walks is making strides, and shows no sign of slowing down. To follow our progress, visit Yantacaw Walks on Facebook.