Walk (or bike or roller skate) to School Month Starts TODAY!

Students from Mary Scroggs Elementray use the cross walk to start their day.

Time to lace up – or velcro depending on age – for Triangle area students: today marks the beginning of International Walk to School Month. October is not just the time when the State Fair comes to town, it’s also a time for parents, educators, students, police and PTAs to partner up to encourage students to safely walk or bike to school.

Walking or biking to school isn’t something that just happens in most cases – it’s a combination of safety education and community partners. Luckily, there are resources to help debunk myths and provide the materials needed to support the programming as well as support from Triangle area schools.

You can find materials to review, pass along, or start an active commute with your school here:

–          Raleigh, Cary and Apex Walk to School month plans

–          Carrboro will be celebrating Walk/Bike to School Day on Wed. Oct. 6th.

–          Look for updated info from Durham and Chapel Hill coming soon

–         See all registered Walk to School events in North Carolina

Students at Ephesus Elementary in Chapel for International Walk to School Day.

Earlier this year, Durant Middle School students in Wake County faced an unfortunate tragedy. Their response and goal is to develop a long term Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program that incorporates the basic elements of SRTS. The key is improving the safety of students already walking to school. This will be supported by strategies and activities incorporating student leadership and creativity in the areas of – Awareness, Education and Data Collection.  Today, October 1, students will participate in a 2 hour WalkSmart BikeSmart Safety Fair that will be conducted in partnership with The City of Raleigh, Wake County Public Schools, Raleigh Police Department and SRTS Volunteers. The fair consists of 11 different stations that will teach students various bicycle and pedestrian skills.

Remember, our children are our future – and right now the trend that is predicted for this generation is obesity, type 2 diabetes and an early grave. Fortunately, they also look to parents, teachers and other community servants as role models, and they want to mimic what we do. So start forming healthy habits now. And if walking or biking to school just isn’t an option for your household, try changing other short trips – to the grocery store, library, community park or a friend’s house. In the long run, these little changes can make a difference in the quality of your child’s life.

Two recent studies have found that walking to school is associated with higher overall physical activity throughout the day. There are many potential benefits of physical activity for youth including:

Walking Wednesdays occur regularly in Chapel Hill.

  • Weight and blood pressure control
  • Bone, muscle, and joint health and maintenance
  • Reduction in the risk of diabetes
  • Improved psychological welfare
  • Better academic performance

So get up and get a move on! The weather has cooled down and it looks like the rain is giving us a break to get out doors and enjoy ourselves.

5 thoughts on “Walk (or bike or roller skate) to School Month Starts TODAY!

  1. The Town of Chapel Hill and the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools have been encouraging International Walk to School Day for the last 6 years. We have reduced peak hour traffic between 850-1000 vehicles, at least on International Walk to School Day, if not also on other Active Wednesday’s throughout the school year.

    In this 2010 Walk to School Year, Chapel Hill-Carrboro will have 5 schools participating in the International Walk to School Day event. Schools received flyers, banners, certificates and stickers as part of the package promoting the event. Those schools with walk zones more adaptable to walking, develop their own celebration set of events– For example, one school developed a Razor Scooter club for their kids to travel to school together! Other events include morning juice & coffee time for parents and students, walking around playgrounds for those students that live too far away to walk to school, walking or cycling clubs and common area pep rallys!

    Some of the schools are located in areas that are not near neighborhoods which make for difficult walking situations. One technique that has been developed in regards to this situation is families determine meeting or gathering points and walk to school with other families. They find locations that are near the schools where they can park their cars and then walk together. Every mile saved driving helps our environment stay cleaner and adds to a healthier beginning to each day!

    Parents, teachers, principals and the Town of Chapel Hill and Carrboro staff encourage everyone to find a way to be part of the incredible benefits resulting from International Walk to School Day!

  2. Pingback: Transit News Tuesday – October 5th « GoTriangle

  3. For children who are privileged enough to live within safe walking or biking distance from school this is an excellent way to encourage healthy, environmentally friendly habits. But there are plenty of kids in our school district who live miles from school, off rural highways, who rely on the school bus to get to school and who simply have no safe, viable walking path.

    A lot of these kids also come from families who are struggling financially. Asking parents who need to hold on to jobs that they could easily lose just by being late to arrange some sort of meet-up on a workday morning so their kid can take a symbolic “walk” is ridiculous. And it won’t change daily habits.

    I wonder how the ‘bus kids’ felt when the treats and prizes were distributed to kids who walked on October 6.

    • @frustrated parent: While it’s true that many kids live too far from school to walk, or parents have work schedules that don’t work for walking, it’s important for us to demonstrate to kids and parents that being active is key to being healthy. Being active doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, or walking for exercise. Anyone can look for ways to incorporate walking or biking into regular daily activity. This can be walking to school, or it can also be walking or biking to the store or library or a park instead of driving. Heck, it can even be walking between the Home Depot and the PetSmart that are in the same shopping center instead of driving from one to the other. The opportunities are there, but most of us are out of practice to look for them.

      At many schools, parents and the administration arranged for the kids on buses to walk around the playground together, or to be dropped off a few blocks from the school so that the kids could walk the rest of the way. At my daughter’s school, the kids on the bus were dropped off at the park across from the school so that they could walk through the park together and participate in the celebration.

      You are right that it’s important not to leave kids out because of circumstances that they or their families can’t control. Fortunately, most parents and administrators have found ways to make Walk-to-School Day inclusive and meaningful to everyone.

      • Additionally, walk to school day/month and Safe Routes to School programming is also intended to teach children how to safely cross the street or ride a bike, being aware of traffic, and stopping as many preventable accidents as possible – whether on the way to school or in other scenarios. If this information was not included in the materials provided it was an oversight on our part, and we will be certain to emphasize that more next year.

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