Michelle Obama Gives a Nod to ‘Walking School Buses’

Elizabeth Harrington | July 15, 2013 | 10:58am EDT
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Photo from WalkingSchoolBus.org website

(CNSNews.com) - First Lady Michelle Obama is promoting walking to school as part of her anti-obesity campaign.

In remarks to mayors gathered at the White House last week, the first lady singled out Knox County, Tenn., which – inspired by Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign -- has created a bike-share program and something called a “walking school bus.”

“I've heard more and more of this kind of walking school bus happening all over the country -- so that kids can get exercise on the way to school, kind of like we did when we were growing up," she said.

A "walking school bus" is a group of children who walk to school with adult chaperones.

"You remember the miles of walking you did with a sweet potato in your pocket?" Mrs. Obama asked a laughing audience.  "We all heard that story.  My mother repeated it just yesterday. And that’s what Let’s Move! is all about," she said.  "That’s what we're really trying to do here.

“It’s about people all across this country coming together to take action to support the health of our kids," Mrs. Obama added.  "We’ve seen it happen in cities, towns and rural areas across the United States."

"Studies show that fewer children are walking and biking to school, and more children are at risk of becoming overweight," says WalkingSchoolBus.org, run by the Department of Transportation, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and the Partnership for a Walkable America. (A variation on the walking school bus is the bicycle train, in which adults supervise children riding their bikes to school.)

"Changing behaviors of children and parents require creative solutions that are safe and fun," the website says.

If the First Lady walked to school when she was a child, she would have had to travel less than a mile.

Michelle Robinson grew up at 7436 South Euclid Avenue on the South Side of Chicago.  She attended Bryn Mawr Elementary school from 1970 to 1977, which is 0.7 miles from her home at 7355 South Jeffery Boulevard.

For security reasons, Mrs. Obama’s own two daughters are delivered to their private school, located 4.6 miles from the White House, by the Secret Service vehicles.

Mrs. Obama has promoted walking to school before.  Marking International Walk to School Day in 2010, the First Lady said it is a good way for children to exercise.

"Congratulations to all those participating in International Walk to School Day," she said at the time.  "By walking or biking to school, students, parents, teachers, and administrators all across America are getting active. It also helps kids get a head start on being active for 60 minutes each day, the goal set by the Presidential Active Lifestyle program."

"I know that by getting students moving, we can help ensure they will live full and healthy lives, and that is why I am so encouraged by all the events going on across our country this month," Mrs. Obama said.

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