Originally published Oct. 2, 2019 in the Fall River Herald News.

By Linda Murphy

One day of walking could be the first step to leading a healthier life.

Students throughout the Fall River public school system took that step for International Walk to School Day.

This is the eighth year in a row the city has taken part in the walk and Fall River is the only school district in the state to have 100% of its schools participating, said Marcia Picard, executive director/school wellness coordinator for Greater Fall River Partners for a Healthier Community.

In fact, it’s the only district to hold that distinction for all eight years, added Picard.

“We’ve been recognized at the State House for this,” Picard said.

Early Wednesday morning, a group of James Tansey Elementary School students, parents, teachers and school administrators gathered at upper North Park in preparation for the walk down Hood Street to the school on Ray Street.

“The kids look forward to it every year,” said Tansey principal Chris Audette, who was there along with physical education teacher Matt Wordell.

Fifty to 60 of the school’s students were at the park and Audette said they pick up even more students along the route.

The times of the walk varied from school to school. Some schools, such as Tansey and Letourneau Elementary School, met at nearby parks for the walk with students. Other schools planned the walk into the day’s activities with PE classes walking around the gyms or around the schools.

Letourneau led the way with 96.8% of students participating, according to statistics released by the school department. Among other schools at the top, Henry Lord Community School followed with 96.7%, then William S. Greene Elementary with 96.6%, Morton Middle School with 96.5%, Viveiros Elementary with 96.1% and Fonseca Elementary with 96%. B.M.C. Durfee High had 93.4% participation.

As she met up with the students at Tansey, Picard said she was happy with the turnout for the walk. “This doesn’t make them healthy, walking one day, but it does shine a light on the fact that kids who walk to school are more attentive and ready to learn,” said Picard.

According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity early.”

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