On the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 5, students in District 77 are encouraged to walk or bike to school. It’s the third year the district has participated in the program. 

All 10 schools in District 77 participate in the Active Learning Program in Schools…or ALPS. The goal is to get students moving for at least 60 minutes a day. Registered and licensed dietitian Kelsey Rounds is funded by the Mankato Clinic foundation as a coordinator for the program.

Rounds says, “It’s good for growing bones and muscles. It helps with self esteem. It helps reduce chronic illness like cardiovascular disease, diabetes. It helps with maintaining and controlling weight and it helps with concentration and attention in the classroom.”

At Kennedy Elementary School in Mankato, it's estimated that 90 percent of the students participate in the walk or bike to school program, even if they have to take the bus. District wide the schools use  creative approaches to make sure all students have a chance to participate and earn a reward.

Sharon Patterson, Physical Education Instructor, says, “When they get off the bus we ask them to do an ALPS trail and then they can participate for the raffle, we give away a bike and helmet for bike and walk to school.”

The program promotes exercise in a way that makes students excited to be a part of it.

Patterson says, “It’s fun to walk with their friends. It’s healthy, it promotes community awareness, it helps parent involvement, and gets the community involved.”

That parent involvement comes into play with the Safe Routes to School maps the district provides through a grant. So parents should check those. in addition, the schools promote the day throughout the community to make sure drivers are extra aware of students on the streets and sidewalks this time of year.