Modesto-area kids walk for fitness

About 500 students and parents walked the walk today, using up calories instead of gas to get to school.Today was International Walk to School Day, started in 1997 as a way to promote more walkable communities.

Local schools taking part were Lakewood Elementary in Modesto, Caswell Elementary in Ceres and Walnut Elementary in Turlock.

It was walking weather — sunny with just a bit of a nip in the air.

“No rain today, Hallelujah!” laughed Lakewood organizer Maralee Clifton. She said Lakewood PTA will be promoting walking and biking throughout the school year as part of a Greenworks contest to win $5,000 for the school.

“We want to promote several things,” Clifton said. “Good healthy living, save the air and also recycling.”In Ceres, more than 200 students plus dozens of parents walked to Caswell from four gathering points, organizers said.

Lourdes Perez of Healthy Children was point person for a coalition of community agencies to put on the walk and a school health fair with free vision and dental screenings.

Ceres walkers also completed “walkability checklists” noting safety concerns along the way, then joined in free breakfast at the school.

Walnut PTA put on the walk, Principal Mark Holmes said. Holmes was among the 40 or so walkers to make the half-mile morning trek to his school.