Coalition Pilots Walking School Bus to Combat Childhood Obesity
Healthy West Kendall is an initiative powered by West Kendall Baptist Hospital but driven by the community, with vision of becoming the Healthiest Community in Florida. The goal is to inspire the residents to think differently about their health and the health of the community. This includes from the food residents eat to the way they get to the store. This is the impetus behind a recent Walking School Bus project that partnered the hospital and area schools in an effort to encourage kids and families to incorporate physical activity into their everyday lives.
With childhood obesity on the rise, statistics from the 2011 National Center for Safe Routes to School report tell the story. In 1969, 48 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age usually walked or bicycled to school. Today, that number is down to about 13 percent due to longer commutes and safety concerns. This reduction in active transit comes at the same time that physical education programs are being squeezed out of the school day despite evidence that exercise improves classroom behavior and academic performance.
WKBH and four local elementary schools held four Walking School Bus events in March and April, with more than 230 students gathering at designated “bus stops” and walking to school together. Miami-Dade School Board Member Lubby Navarro, school administrators, teachers and parents accompanied the students along with representatives from West Kendall Baptist Hospital and its community partners.