Maitland celebrates International Walk To School Day in style

Students walk to school

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  • | 12:31 p.m. October 10, 2012
Photo by: Steven Barnhart - Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker shakes hands with parents and students during Walk to School Day Oct. 3.
Photo by: Steven Barnhart - Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker shakes hands with parents and students during Walk to School Day Oct. 3.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Students at Dommerich Elementary School and Maitland Middle School observed International Walk to School Day by using alternative means to get to school on Oct. 3.

They were greeted by Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker and accompanied by Councilwoman Bev Reponen.

More than 250 students at Maitland Middle walked or rode their bikes to school, an increase of 40 percent from regular school days, said Michelle Sartor, the head of the school’s Walk’n’Roll program.

Sartor and another mother began the Walk’n’Roll program in 2008 to encourage more students to ride bikes or walk to school as a way of living healthy. Since then they have seen an increase in students walking or biking. Particularly on the one day a month when they have an incentive program to get students to participate.

“It can be a lifelong habit if you ride a half a mile to school,” Sartor said. “You might start doing it somewhere besides your school.”

The incentives, usually small items such as stress balls, water bottles or backpacks, are given on a participation basis. The more often students participate in the monthly event, the better the reward, Sartor said. There are bigger items though, such as bike locks and helmets, raffled off.

The Walk’n’Roll program hasn’t just been focused on the students. In 2009 they applied for a Department of Transportation grant on behalf of the school to enhance safety along the main routes into Dommerich and Maitland Middle. The grant ended up building a new sidewalk along Arapaho Boulevard and added traffic-calming medians to Thistle Lane.

Visit and for more information on walking initiatives in your neighborhood.

Reponen, the councilwoman who accompanied the Maitland Middle student council on their walk to school, sees it as a way to introduce the kids to a healthy lifestyle.

“I learned how to run and jog when I was in school,” Reponen told the students and faculty on the walk. “I lived a mile away form the school and I was late a lot. And my mom said I could come home for lunch. So I had to run.”

Three seventh-graders who don’t usually walk made the two-mile journey from the edge of Winter Park to the school. Abby Taylor, one of the three students, usually rides in her parents car, but the free incentives got her and her friends to make the walk, even if it did mean they had to leave at 8 a.m. to get to the school by 9:30.


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