Charles Heinrichs, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Wilson Elementary School in Davenport, chooses to ride a scooter to school every day, crossing about five streets during his half-mile journey.

He was one of 545 motivated Wilson students who took part Wednesday in the Iowa Healthiest State Walk. Charles, minus his scooter, joined parents, teachers, aides and fellow students to walk several blocks from the school to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, where all of them enjoyed a brown bag lunch.

“We did this last year and I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m happy that we are doing it again this year.” Charles explained that he really likes to ride his bike, but he doesn’t have a lock for it. So he uses the scooter, which he folds up and puts in his locker during the day.

Wilson students were extra-busy Wednesday because they hosted and took part in another major health and safety activity as well. In the morning, the children learned how to safely get to school with the annual Walk This Way event, sponsored by Safe Kids Quad-Cities and Fed Ex. A few hours later came the exercise walk to the fairgrounds.

Izaiah Schaeffer Houston, 11, heard the morning’s safety message. “You use the crosswalks,” the fifth-grader said. “You look left, right and left again before you cross.” The youngster said he usually rides his bike to school, but he also likes to walk with friends.

Walking was a highly visible activity all around Iowa on Wednesday.

In October 2011, the state sponsored the Start Somewhere Walk, and 291,000 Iowans united in an effort to break a world record for most people walking at one time. This year’s activity was designed as a 1-kilometer walk to keep residents energized and focused on improving the state’s ranking (16th last year) in its bid to become known as the healthiest state in the nation. Organizers believe this year’s figure will top the 2011 participation mark and expect to release the total this morning. It was still being compiled Wednesday night because people were encouraged to walk throughout the day. 

“It’s a great program,” said Janice Telsrow, Wilson’s school nurse. “We did it last year and this builds on that experience. The kids are really excited.”

That sentiment was shared around the Quad-Cities. At Alcoa Davenport Works, officials marked off a one-kilometer path that began at the company’s four-story office building, tracked to the northeast corner of the parking lot and went back to the starting point.

Davenport Works’ wellness committee decided to participate in the state initiative, according to spokesman John Riches. About 50 people walked the path during the day, but the walks were expected to continue into the evening hours.

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Some 15 Davenport municipal employees met at The River’s Edge facility along the Mississippi River and walked west to the entrance of Credit Island Park. The park was beautiful Wednesday because of the leaves on the trees changing colors, said Theresa Hauman, the senior recreation manager for the Davenport Parks and Recreation Department.

“Many people talked about how they should do the walks more often,” she said, pointing out that consistency is part of an overall fitness routine.



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