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Bus Stop and Walk helps students put their best foot forward

You might see more kids making their way to school via sneakers — instead of school buses — on Fridays this spring. Red Wing's Bus Stop and Walk program parks the famous yellow buses 10 to 15 minutes away from school, so that over 1,000 students can walk the rest of the way together. The program, which resumes April 21, aims to get students moving before class so they're more focused once they arrive.

Recent research supports the theory.

Undoubtedly, one of a teacher's most daunting tasks is getting students to sit down, pay attention and get to work. According to research published by peer-reviewed journal, Preventative Medicine Reports, getting kids moving before the first bell rings may make that task a bit easier — and promote a better overall learning environment.

Researchers found that students who were active before class spent more time following instructions and working quietly at their desks than students who did not participate in physical activity.

Bus Stop and Walk is putting that theory into practice, one step at a time.

The program began as a one-day trial at Sunnyside Elementary in May 2014 in cooperation with Live Healthy Red Wing. Since then, enthusiasm and success have extended the program to Burnside Elementary and Twin Bluff Middle School.

"The Bus Stop and Walk program is a wonderful opportunity to support students develop lifelong healthy habits," said Sunnyside Elementary Principal Jeremy Sorenson.

During the 2015-16 school year, the district implemented a more permanent program, where students walk most Fridays throughout fall and spring. Parents who drive their children to school are also encouraged to drop off at the Bus Stop and Walk locations so everyone can participate. According to Sorenson, the program has been successful on several levels.

"Students, staff and families have all had positive feedback. For me, it's also fun to see the kids walk with friends and engage in conversation. It's a really exciting way to start our Fridays."