The trip Monday morning starts at 7 a.m. at the Fairgrounds Housing Complex Community Center, 1015 W. Jefferson St., and will finish at 7:30 a.m. at Lewis Lemon Elementary School, 1993 Mulberry St.

Rockford Public Schools switched to a geographic zone-based plan for elementary school students, starting with kindergarteners, in the 2011-12 school years. This year, kindergarten and first grade students attend the school within their geographic-based zone – a school that’s, ideally, closest to their home. That means more students are walking to school.

Nutrition and physical activity are not only directly related to students’ health but also to a student’s academic performance. “Exercise first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up and start the day,” said Winnebago County Health Department’s We Choose Health Coordinator Kyle Auman.  The walking school bus will also help alleviate traffic congestion as parents and buses battle for space in front of the school.  

Partners for the Walking School Bus Initiative are the Rockford Police Department, YMCA, City of Rockford, Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Rockford Housing Authority, Youth Services Network, Rockford Public Schools, and the Winnebago County We Choose Health Partnership. This project is part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s We Choose Health Initiative, which is made possible by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These new partnerships are very exciting. We want our community to see that we are coming together as organizations and to encourage people in the community to join together in the same way,” Auman said.

For more information on the Walking School Bus Initiative, contact the Winnebago County Health Department’s “We Choose Health” Coordinator Kyle Auman, at 815-720-4190.