New Sunnyside program tackles childhood obsesityThere is no bus service in Red Wing for students who live less than a mile from school.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
There is no bus service in Red Wing for students who live less than a mile from school.
Leaders at one of the district's most neighborhood-based schools are hoping to capitalize on that circumstance through a new program aimed at getting children more active.
The program, dubbed "Sunnyside Sneakers," is urging more Sunnyside Elementary parents to let their kids hit the streets.
"When you look around, you don't see kids walking and biking around like you used to 30 years ago," said Michelle Leise of the Live Healthy Red Wing organization. "It used to be a habit."
The program, which kicked off on Wednesday, invites students to walk or bike to school once a week. Live Healthy Red Wing -- an organization that promotes healthy initiatives - brought the idea for a program to the district.
Leise said Sunnyside officials jumped on the idea and took ownership of the program from there.
"Anything we can do to help promote wellness among students and staff is a good thing," Sunnyside Principal Patti Roberts said.
While the aim is to ward off childhood obesity, program leaders hope "Sunnyside Sneakers" also teaches skills like independence and personal awareness as they walk or bike Red Wing streets.
That idea resonated with at least one parent who was on hand for Wednesday's kickoff.
"I think independence is really important," said Charles Uhlik, whose first-grade daughter Clare participates in the program. "And self-awareness of surroundings - how to get home, the neighborhood."
He said concerns over street safety are tempered by plans for students to walk in pairs and utilize crosswalks.
Leise said she hopes the concept will even take off among students who are dropped off by their parents. She hopes parents will drop kids off a few blocks from school instead of letting them out at the school's doorstep.
Program organizers see it producing a trickle-down effect that could spur other community members to become more active. Kids will see other kids walking. Parents and grandparents will see it.
"Let's try to get back to where we used to be," Leise said.
As the program's roots take hold, Live Healthy Red Wing leaders are beginning to see what else can be done in schools.
"We're now looking at policy and what people can do to help implement that," Leise said.