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5 Miles in the Snow

5 Miles in the Snow

We all have the family stories in which an older relative tells stories of having to walk miles to school through adverse conditions.

Most all of my greatest generation relatives are from Florida so they couldn’t use that reference but they came up with some story about snakes and one room school houses.

My cross -generational lamenting does not involve walking to school but rather riding my bike. I used to tell my kids that I biked 5 miles to and from school everyday and they believed me until we visited my hometown and they wanted to measure it themselves. I guess they were more skeptical than I thought. The reality, after I drove (notice I didn’t do it by bike) it 3 times was I actually only traveled about a mile each way. Seemed longer back in the day.

This Wednesday is National Walk to School Day and I am wondering if any parents shared their urban legends of the hardships they had traveling to school. I am guessing with the 21st century parent the stories are more about carpools, car lines and waiting endless hours on a bus to pick them up.

It is strange that a hardship had now turned into a novelty. People abandoned their cars and school buses to walk to school. But according to a few friends who tried this in the past it is a real challenge in Southwest Florida.

Many kids don’t go to neighborhood schools and if they do there are not necessarily safe walking or bike routes that make the activity doable.

This seems like a strange disconnect, as there is a direct link to kids moving and their performance in school. Parents and teachers report anecdotally to me that on the “walk to school day” the students are more alert and have an extra spring in their step.

We all know getting moving and staying moving matters. Last week not only highlighted a day for kids to increase their physical activity but Healthy Lee, a long-standing coalition in Lee County committed to improving community health, launched their Million Mile Movement which encourages all of us to increase our daily movement and work together to achieve one million miles in 90 days.

With the help of technology I have loaded an activity tracker on my phone to help log miles towards the lofty goal. My kids will be happy to hear there is some documentation in place or I might try to claim I did the full million on my own.

The team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, aptly named Change-Makers has committed to hundreds of miles in 90 days. We have also provided funding to the effort to purchase pedometers to our neighbors who do not have the technology in place to log in miles via the Internet.

Just like any change that happens in community it does not happen alone. So if you are looking for ways to get moving and promote a community, join the movement at

If you don’t want to go it alone we welcome you to join our team. Just select [email protected] Florida Community Foundation on the select a team pull down menu.

Just think, we can tell our kids and grandkids were part of the movement and I won’t tell if you want to embellish it just a little. It’s tradition.

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More