These Laurel School families get to class on time the “old-fashioned” way – by walking

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on October 15, 2012

families walking to Laurel School in Menlo Park

Menlo Park City School District Traffic Safety Coordinator Kathy Schrenk talks about a remarkable group of Laurel School parents and kids in her most recent Transit Notes newsletter:

“[These] Laurel families have been walking together from the Flood Park neighborhood for more than 10 years. It’s a half mile walk, so each year the walkers cover about 90 miles over a school year. That’s about $60 in savings on gas and car maintenance per family. The group has nine families, for a total carbon savings of about 800 pounds of Co2 emissions, or the equivalent electricity of a family home for more than two weeks. Not to mention all those calories burned!”

We followed up with one of the parents, Cathy Tokic, who has two children at Laurel, a kindergartner and first grader. “I’m not one of the original walkers,” she said. “I was at a neighborhood block party last weekend and ran into one parent who was part of the group in 1996. And there may have been walking groups before then.

“We’re really lucky as the half-mile walk is really doable even for the youngest kids. It’s great from an environmental standpoint but it’s also a huge time saver. You don’t have to load all younger kids into a car. Plus, it’s your turn to be the ‘walking parent’ just once a week, not every day.

“It also creates good health habits earlier in life for the kids. Where I grew up in Maine, we lived so remotely from school, that it was not possible or safe (especially in weather) to walk to our school. I appreciate the weather in California and the outdoor time it affords!”

If this inspires you to put together a walk-to-school group in your neighborhood, Kathy Schrenk offer these guidelines:

  • Walk in a straight line
  • Stay on the far right of the sidewalk
  • Don’t walk in the gutter unless the path is blocked
  • Stop at each corner and wait to be told to cross
  • Keep your hands to yourself
  • Stay with the group
  • Follow directions
  • No picking stuff off the ground or plants
  • No kicking stuff on the ground
  • No stepping or jumping in puddles
  • No screaming or yelling
  • Be polite
  • Say, “Goodbye” & “Thank you” before you leave the parent leader

Photos by Laura Hamilton

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