Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Walk to School Day for healthier kids, healthier communities

By Ann Briggs

With classes back in session, you're probably seeing an increase in foot, bicycle and vehicle traffic around your neighborhood school. Each day, 1.1 million students in Washington travel to and from school, using three main modes of travel: school bus, private vehicle and active transportation (better known as walking and biking).

Wednesday, Oct. 4, is International Walk to School Day, which means a large number of students will be sharing the roadways. Where there are safe walk routes we're encouraging parents who normally drive their child to school to consider letting them walk. It's a great way for kids to get some exercise and it reduces congestion and vehicle emissions around schools. Increasing the number of students who safely walk or bike to school is a top goal of our Safe Routes to School Program.
Walk to School day is Oct. 4 so encourage your kids to give it a try, and be aware of extra children on the roads.

We're also asking people who drive to be on the lookout for students as they cross roadways, especially as the days get shorter and darker. Remember, any intersection is a legal crosswalk, marked or unmarked, and it's the law to stop for a person waiting to cross.

Walk to School Day is a day for students, families and community partners to celebrate and call attention to the benefits of walking to school. Increased physical activity, like walking, can help prevent obesity and is associated with reducing chronic diseases. In Washington, about 42 percent of 6th grade students don't get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week, and about 12 percent of Washington's 10th graders are obese. Walking can also help students show up at class alert and ready to learn.

A number of schools in communities across the state have already registered their Walk to School event and it's not too late to plan one in your area. Join the fun and take steps toward a healthier future!