By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Aubrey Robbins and his daughter, Stella Grace, often take a morning walk to Joyner Elementary School, where Stella Grace is in kindergarten.
On Wednesday, they were joined by a crowd of more than 100 other Joyner students, parents and teachers in celebration of “International Walk to School Day.”
The group met around 7 a.m. at nearby Oak Ridge Christian Church, where they had donuts, coffee, juice and milk. They gathered in the church’s parking lot and walked from there, traveling the sidewalk adjoining Rob Leake City Park and ending at the school’s front door.
“It is another opportunity for us to embrace health and maximize its importance to our students,” said Joyner Principal Kimberly Foster. “We want healthy students because if they are healthy, they are able to be here. That is when they learn the best.”
Walk to School Day began in the United States in 1997 to build awareness for the need for walkable communities. It has since spread to the United Kingdom and Canada.
Nearly 4,000 events across the United States were registered to participate this year, according to the official website, walkbiketoschool.org. Those included Baldwyn Elementary, Holly Springs Primary, New Albany Elementary, Okolona Elementary, Oxford High and West Point’s East Side Elementary and Fifth Street Junior High.
“We walk to school as much as we can,” said Robbins, who lives in the Joyner neighborhood. “It is a good way to get exercise and fresh air, and you get to visit with your kid longer.”
Joyner Elementary second-grader Treviana Harris, 7, said she likes to walk to school to see her friends. Her dad, Glen Knox, joined her on Wednesday in order to support the event.
About 120 people participated at Joyner, which Foster said was the largest group she has seen for the school’s Walk to School celebration.
“It is a family here,” said PTA President Gwen Cordell. “We enjoy getting together and celebrating with our teachers and staff and kids.”
Oak Ridge Christian Church Pastor Anthony Pierce said the event provided a good opportunity for the church to partner with the school.