Start a Walk to School Day


State departments of health should work together with departments of transportation and education to establish a Walk to School Day. Childhood obesity is an epidemic, and evidence has shown that sedentary lifestyles are a major cause. Walking is the easiest form of exercise for children and adults alike. Yet, most students do not walk to school because barriers that make walking unsafe, or because their homes are too far from their schools. Establishing a Walk to School Day can encourage communities to increase opportunities for students to walk to school and make them more aware of the barriers to such activity.

Walk to School Day originated in 1997 in Chicago. In 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. Many communities and states use Walk to School events to kick-off "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 to school in supervised groups along safe routes.

Interested schools are encouraged to register their intentions at the International Walk to School Web site. 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.


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