Students, community benefit from walking, biking to school
Participating in the International Walk to School program provides communities, schools, parents and children a classic win-win scenario. Everyone wins, and there are no losers.
There are plenty of great reasons to walk to school — less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air — but one of the best is that children and parents will be healthier. With obesity rates skyrocketing and only one-quarter of American's able to get the Surgeon General's recommended daily dose of exercise (just 30 minutes), it's an ideal time to encourage people to walk to school for their own health and well-being.
Kids need to move
Add walking to the mix.
Physical activity recommendations for children suggest that they need a variety of activities each day-some intense, some less-so, some informal, some structured. Walking or cycling to and from school is an ideal way to get some of that activity at no extra cost to the child or family.
Walking to school is a missed opportunity. Roughly 10% of children nationwide walk to school regularly. Even among those kids living within a mile of their school, only 25 percent are regular walkers.
Parents who walk or bike to school with their kids get to be sociable. Nearly nine out ten parents who walk their children to school see it as an ideal way to meet new people, according to a survey in the UK. Many said that the school gate was a better place to meet new people than pubs, clubs, evening classes or the supermarket.
Air Quality and the Environment
They are also more likely to have asthma or other acute respiratory problems that can be aggravated by air pollution than other age groups. By walking or riding a bike to school, children lower the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which helps reduce toxic air pollutants.
Vehicles emit a variety of air pollutants. For example, ground level ozone is created by a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compound gases in the presence of heat and sunlight.
It also means reminding drivers to watch for others using the road.
The 'Four Es'
Consider the range of tools available to address safety.
Parents and other adults worry about children encountering bullies or strangers on the way to school. There may be a fear of kidnapping or assault. While the actual occurrences are extremely rare, consideration should be taken to address parent fears and create a plan to reduce risk.
Parent accompaniment of children on the walk to school is one way to solve this concern. Some communities use walking school buses as a way to have an adult presence on the street.
The promotion of safe walking and biking to school addresses the risks described here. When there are more adults and children walking and biking on the road, the community becomes accustomed to their presence.