Calling Bullshit on Walk To School Day

Walking To School

It's Walk To School Day and I call bullshit on the whole thing.

I know walking to school is ideal. It's better for the environment. It's good exercise for the kids (and parents). And it helps alleviate vehicular congestion around the school. I already know that. And guess what? So does everybody else.

It's probably why the walking rates for those that live within easy walking distance of our school are already close to perfect. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the student body does not live within easy walking distance. It's one of only five Catholic schools in all of Toronto to offer French Immersion that starts in kindergarten. So many families are willing to travel quite a bit.

In fact, even the official catchment area for the school is big enough that they offer bussing. We happen to be just outside that catchment area, though, and make the five to ten minute walk to and from the nearest school bus stop several times a day. Otherwise, it's a 20 minute walk for me and a 35 minute walk for little legs to get to the school. Consider the round trip and consider that I have one kid in half day kindergarten and one kid in full day Grade 1. Do the math! Walking would be ridiculous.

So it's Walk To School Day and my little junior kindergarten Irene comes home all excited about it. There's a slip of paper in her backpack for me to fill out and a letter explaining that everyone who walks will get entered into a draw for a prize. "We have to walk to school tomorrow, Mommy," she says, "Or I won't be able to get a prize." And again, every 15 minutes all night long. "Maybe," I tell her. "If we wake up early enough." She's beside herself with worry about this prize.

So they did walk to school today. Ed took them because, pfft, no way was I making that happen. Mary's babysitter is only a block away from home and my time is too precious, sorry kids. Ed walked them to school but they didn't make it in time to meet up with all the other kids and get Halloween stickers and decorations. They didn't even make it in time for school. I just hope that Irene get something for her effort.

But, really, I'm just sick of the school dangling prizes in front of my children. Bribing them, essentially, to walk to school or sell more magazine subscriptions or whatever it is. Rewards can be good motivators for older children, but for kids under ten or so it just seems cruel. So the kids who don't walk to school, who can't walk to school, don't get a prize? Only the kids whose families can afford to live in the fairly affluent area nearest to the school get to participate? The poorer kids who get bussed in or whose parents drive them or who take public transportation get nothing?

And for what? So all the school administrators and families that already freaking walk can pat themselves on the back and feel good about spreading awareness to those lazy families who can't be bothered to walk.

It all just seems horribly misguided to me.

Tell me what I'm missing, people.

photo credit

Cross-posted from my blog Playground Confidential

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