Although parents have walked their children to and from school on post for years, Fort Bragg leadership and school officials are now promoting the idea to alleviate traffic congestion in school zone areas, promote Family physical fitness through walking, and ensure for quality Family time before and after school.

“We are in the midst of a promoting our media campaign for our walking children to school program,” said Col. Jeffery Sanborn, Fort Bragg garrison commander, during the September School Board meeting. “This is an alternative to driving (children to and from school in congested areas), plus there are some real benefits to it like the fitness factor and spending time with Family.”

Dr. Emily Marsh, North Carolina Schools Department of Defense Education Activity superintendent, said the school plans to inform the Fort Bragg community about the walk your child to school program through a variety of means such as at town hall meetings, through social media, the Paraglide and during monthly Fort Bragg School Board meetings.

“If your child attends one of our Fort Bragg schools and you live within a mile from the school, give it a try,” Marsh said. “It will be a great experience.”

“We want to focus on it being a good time to spend with your children,” Marsh said. “We also want our children to be physically fit.”

Marsh said there are 5,200 students that attend 11 Fort Bragg Schools, eight of them on post and three located at Linden Oaks, so there is great potential for program participation.

Irwin Intermediate School Principal Charlie Council said he has about 70 percent of parents that drop off and kick up their children and 30 percent participate in the walk to school program since school began, Aug. 23.

“This is doable and we’d like to see more Families get involved,” said Council. “We’re thinking about having a competition amongst the schools to see who can get more participation.”

According to Council, the new Irwin school serves 571 students, second through fifth grade, and it currently takes about 20 minutes to effectively get students exited from the facility in an orderly manner, so parents can meet their children to walk or drive them home and get others on the bus.

Ashley Ovsijenko, mother of three and parent of an Irwin third grader said this year her goal is to walk more and what a great way to get started through Fort Bragg’s walk your child to school program.

“Now that I’ve started walking, I really enjoy it,” said Ovsijenko. “The kids like it, too. It just takes about 15 minutes to get to the school (and home).”

Melinda Thayer, mother of five and also a parent of an Irwin third grader said it helps her keep in good shape.

“It gives me a chance to meet our neighbors, a great way to include all the kids in physical fitness, and we’re not polluting anything.”