October 7 is International Walk to School Day, and the whole month of October has been designated Walk to School Month. Schoolchildren are encouraged to walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, bus, or carpool to school — anything that is different from the one child-one car system. And they’re encouraged to keep doing so, when and if they can. The beauty of the program, which was expanded from a day to a month in 2006, is that a month is long enough for something like walking to become a routine and a habit.
The International Walk to School-USA site has a lot of wonderful information about the benefits of walking. The site’s Frequently Asked Questions page has a great checklist to help parents determine the walking and biking safety of their own neighborhoods, as well as suggestions for customizing a walk if the school is too far away for walking or biking.
My community has been participating in International Walk to School Day, through our local Safe Routes to Schools program, for years. I have witnessed first-hand the increase in regular walkers and bikers to school since the program started. More people, of all ages, out on the streets make them safer for the next group of schoolchildren who comes along. Communities also benefit from getting to know one another better, as they get into the healthy walking habit together.
The number of participating schools goes up each year — perhaps yours has already planned some events, assemblies or rewards. Enjoy International Walk to School Month!
(This link will get you to Marin Safe Routes to Schools.)
Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman