Some Lynchburg elementary school students will join with students across Virginia, throughout the U.S. and around the world on Wednesday, Oct. 7 as they ditch the bus and walk to school on International Walk to School Day.
Some students from R.S. Payne, Dearington, Paul Munro, Perrymont and T.C. Miller elementary schools will walk through their neighborhood to school. Many others will ride the bus most of the way, then join teachers, parents and community leaders to walk together for the last portion of the trip.
International Walk to School day teaches kids that it’s fun to walk instead of riding the bus, while encouraging healthy habits, promoting a cleaner environment and fostering a sense of community. Organizers of International Walk to School Day also hope to show the need to create safer routes for children to walk and bike to school.
Walk to School Day began the United States in 1997 in Chicago with the first National Walk Our Children to School Day to spread awareness of the need for walkable communities. The event has grown and expanded in the years since. In 2000, Walk to School day became an international event when Canada and the United Kingdom joined with the U.S. to celebrate the day.
By 2002, there were schools participating in all 50 states and around the world with nearly 3 million walkers participating. The popularity of Walk to School Day led to the establishment of October as Walk to School Month. The Safe Routes to School program strives to increase the number of students walking and biking to school by improving safety conditions and educating students on bicycle and pedestrian safety.
In 2010, there were over 3,500 events in America including events in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Additional countries participating include many countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. On Walk to School Day in 2013, more than 4,400 events took place in the U.S.
Parents can encourage children to adapt a healthier lifestyle throughout the year by walking or bicycling instead of driving when possible. Some other ways parents can foster a love of walking include planning family walks in their neighborhood, spending time at the park, walking or biking on local trails, going for family hikes and participating in walking or running events.
Walking more all year long is a great goal for families. Take time during October to walk with your kids. Whether you’re walking to school, around the neighborhood or on the trails, your entire family will enjoy the benefits.