In Review: Walk to School Day 2017

It has been said – in one way or another – that walking brings joy, whatever the weather.

Such could be said about our Walk to School Day this year with Liberty City Elementary, which – in a twist deviating from our usual perimeter walk – was held indoors, after a massive rainstorm doused the initial plan.

Nevertheless, a walk is a walk, even indoors in the school hallways. Luckily, the school’s horseshoe-shape was perfectly suited to this change of plans, and the cafeteria proved to be the ideal rallying point for the students and our wonderfully raucous mascots.

Raucous, did we say? If you could harness the energy between the children in the room and the mascots, you could probably power the entire school – and energized is the best way to start a Walk to School Day!

Thanks to T.D. from the Miami Dolphins, Burnie from the Miami HEAT, Billy from the Miami Marlins, and the National Crime Prevention Council’s McGruff the Crime Dog (whom, we might add, knows some pretty good dance moves), we were able to thank the school, celebrate poster contest winners, and have a great time – even before the walk started.

T.D. also brought along former Dolphins players O.J. McDuffie and Nat Moore to meet the kids. Echoing his childhood, Nat shared his story of growing up with the students: “As an old Miami Dolphin who grew up right here in Liberty City just like you, the key was: We walked to school every day.”

His words could not have been more appropriate, as Liberty City Elementary holds a special place in our hearts. In addition to being WalkSafe’s first pilot school in 2003, it is a classic example of a traditional neighborhood school. Built in 1948, it is centrally embedded within Miami-Dade County’s Gladeview neighborhood; making it within walking distance of the houses located to the east, west, and south. Indeed, to visit the school is to step into a Beverly Cleary children’s novel.

Even though the automobile has made walking to school a thing of advocacy in the 21st century rather than the norm, we were happy to see some of the neighborhood kids arriving on foot. Though the event was held indoors, walking to school in the average light rain shower should not be cause for parental alarm, given an umbrella, poncho, and galoshes. As parents, we should let our kids remind us of the fun we have forgotten over the years.

Speaking of fun, high fives were flying as our very own University of Miami mascot, Sebastian the Ibis, made special one-on-one appearances at each classroom after the walk. As the kids cheered and clamored “What’s an ibis?” they learned about the bird itself: Last bird to leave in a hurricane, first to return, and – most importantly – he is “not a duck.”

So concluded another wonderful Walk to School Day – and we hope more parents will join the cause to walk more with their kids. Remember, when we are walking in the rain, the worst we have to worry about is our own child splashing us when they gleefully jump into a puddle – and at best, we get to enjoy the morning with our precious bundle of joy.

It makes the walk worthwhile, don’t you think?

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