Start a Walk to School Day
Walk to School Day originated in Chicago in 1997. By 2006, schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia held Walk to School events to promote physical activity, safety and concern for the environment. It's one way for communities to increase opportunities for students to walk to school — and for both students and adults to begin identifying the barriers that can make walking to school unsafe.
Many communities and states use Walk to School events as a first step toward developing Safe Routes to School programs or to build more interest and support for walking and bicycling (See Policy #5, Establish a "Safe Routes to School" Program, in this section.)
The State can encourage local governments and school boards to designate a "Walk to School Day" by funding or otherwise supporting local efforts through the departments of education, transportation, and health. Starting a "Walk to School Day" involves gathering interested parties at schools and throughout communities to promote the idea that students should walk in supervised groups along safe routes.
Interested schools are encouraged to register their intentions at www.walktoschool.org. Doing so will increase awareness of local and statewide support for the event. Also, community leaders will be able to learn about practices in other communities.
- California's Walk to School Day
Five California schools participated in Walk to School Day in 1998, and the state Department of Public Health began funding Walk to School programs in 1999. California's Walk to School headquarters provides resources such as letters and fact sheets for schools and organizations looking to implement Walk to School activities.
Taking into account California's diverse population, many of the resources are available in multiple languages. The Walk to School headquarters estimates that 1,800 schools in California will participate in this year's activities.
— California's Walk to School Day
- Washington's Walk to School Day
The Washington State Department of Health in collaboration with Safe Kids Washington has sponsored a Walk to School Day for a variety of schools throughout the state. The program raises awareness of how walkable the community is (or not), promotes pedestrian safety, and allows community leaders, parents and children to share time together.
The event is timed each to coincide with the annual International Walk Your Child to School Day in October. Safe Kids Coalition volunteers, healthcare workers, police, firefighters and other safety advocates come together to raise awareness of and provide support for safe walking and biking programs. Many schools hold Walk to School assemblies, where children are given reflective zipper pulls and T-shirts to reinforce their awareness of the rules for safe walking. And parents and grandparents are encouraged to join the students on their walks.
— Washington Department of Health