Walk to school event draws attention to childhood obesity and traffic safety concerns

Congdon Park Elementary School students, parents, and volunteers were on their feet Wednesday morning for Minnesota Safe Route’s to School “Walk and Bike to School Day”.

The event was held to raise awareness and promote physical activity.

“We all, with the pandemic, probably weren’t as active and I think childhood obesity rates really, especially in the elementary ages, shot up in the last year,” said Katie Benziger, a cardiologist with Essentia Health. “So, I think we really need to make a concerted effort as a community to try to combat childhood obesity and it starts with just being active and walking for most people.”

Some parent volunteers also used the event to draw attention to the lack of a safe route for their children to walk to school. Lindsay Ekstrom lives east of Congdon Park Elementary and says the lack of a crosswalk, plowed sidewalks, stop sign, and other safety measures makes it dangerous for children to walk that route.

"It feels like someone needs to get hurt for anything to happen. We’ve been trying for years and years to get this crosswalk or slow speed, or a stop sign or something to make it safe for our kids and everybody else’s kids," said Ekstrom.

Ekstrom went on to say that she hopes something is done this year to help make the route safer.