Student Well-Being

Schools Celebrating International Walk to School Day Today

By Bryan Toporek — October 05, 2011 1 min read
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What’s one simple, underrated weapon in the ongoing fight against childhood obesity?

Having students walk or bike to school instead of driving them.

With that in mind, students across the country were taking part in International Walk to School in the USA day this morning, an activity connected to the federal Safe Routes to Schools program.

More than 3,700 schools in all 50 states registered online to say they’d be participating.

The first National Walk Our Children to School Day took place in Chicago in 1997 and was sponsored by the Partnership for a Walkable America, according to the website.

In 2005, Congress funded the Safe Routes to Schools program for states to establish walk-to-school programs. Since then, the program has received $820 million, with about 11,000 grants going to schools in every U.S. state.

In 2010 and 2011, the Safe Routes to School program received funding for projects in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

According to figures from the National Center for Safe Routes to School, 48 percent of children in 1969 walked or bicycled to school, and 87 percent of students who lived within a mile of school did so.

But by 2009, only 13 percent of children walked or biked, and only 35 percent within a mile did. Forty-two percent of those who live within a mile of school were driven to school by their parents.

So, you can see why a program like Safe Routes to School exists, and why it would create a day like National Walk to School Day. (Our friends at Education News Colorado have a profile of how Colorado schools were expected to mark the day.)

Better yet: In 2006, the International Walk to School Committee decided to promote Walk to School for the entire month of October. It’s been Walk to School month ever since.

Skeptics Remain

But parents in one community in Minnesota remain skeptical of the Safe Routes to School program’s overall impact, citing the fact that not a single student walks at their 620-student elementary school.

When asked why students aren’t walking to school, parents told the

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.