It’s 8 in the morning, it’s pouring, and a horde of children is supposed to be walking to school.
This morning’s International Walk to School Day celebration was moved from the Yale Bowl to the Edgewood School’s cafeteria, a slightly less vibrant and exciting locale but nonetheless a lively one. The YDN photographer and I are some of the only people above four feet tall in the front of the room, where kindergarteners through eighth graders are swarming, sporting “Safe Streets” stickers on their clothing.
Farther in the back of the room, however, the place is buzzing with important adults — from the school’s principal to Mayor John DeStefano.
The assembly involves a few quick speeches (though evidently too long, still, to keep the kids’ attention — chatter overwhelms DeStefano’s hearty speech about the different ways to get to school).
“Is this Edgewood School?” he calls. “Are you gonna help us with something today?” Some laughter and cheering follows, and students wave signs with slogans like “Look Both Ways” or “An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away.”
Then the students are handed “goody-bags” full of information about walking safely to school, the health benefits of walking and even a pedometer for each. Edgewood’s principal announces there will be a contest to see what classroom cumulatively walks the most.
After a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the entire cafeteria — parents, city workers, children, teachers, and the mayor himself — empties outside to the now clearer day, where they proceed to walk around the block, led by Edgewood’s marching band. Third grader Hannah Feldman is excited about walking to school.
“I think I take maybe…20 steps a day?” she guesses. “Or 40? I guess I’ll take more now.”