Michigan ranks eighth in the nation for obesity and 1 in 10 youth are obese. Tackling childhood obesity is part of Governor Rick Snyder’s health initiative for the state.
Horizon Elementary School in Holt is home to many health programs that is keeping students active. The most recent program was during the International Walk to School Day on October 5.
David Hornak is the principal of Horizon Elementary. For International Walk to School Day Hornak invited the entire school to walk from his house to the school. More than half of the school showed up as well as a handful of state legislators to make the one-mile trek.
When they arrived, the entire school gathered to perform what they call the pedestrian safety dance to help promote safe walks to school. “And it was amazing,” Hornak says. “We spent 3-4 weeks preparing for this in our kinetics and integrative art classes. we had 250 plus faculty, close to 400 people dancing the peed safety dance. What a great way to start our day.”
State senator, Gretchen Whitmer attended the event. She says that Horizon Elementary goes along with Snyder’s initiative to battle childhood obesity. “Every one of us has a stake in our population being active and healthy, living a long, quality, life and so I think everything that we can do works together toward that end,” she says.
Besides participating in International Walk to School Day, Horizon elementary has a similar fitness program that happens Monday- Friday throughout the year. The program is called the “walking school bus.”
“A walking school bus is where we have satellite drop off spots,” Hornak says, “and parents volunteer their home and kids get dropped off and are safely escorted to school on a daily basis.”
The walking school bus has been going on for two years now and Hornak has seen the difference it has made.
“We also have been studying our fitness levels here and we determined that when kids walk, bike or exercise before school, they are more academically engaged in school.”
Not only are students more engaged, but the office staff has also noticed a drop in behavioral referrals.
Since Horizon elementary started the “Walking School Bus”, 130 students now walk or bike to school on a daily basis, that’s up from less than 30 students two years ago.