JEFFERSON CITY – One step at a time, students at more than 30 Missouri schools are getting more exercise, reducing traffic near their buildings and making strides to help the environment as they participate in International Walk to School Day on Oct. 3
October is Walk to School Month and the Missouri Department of Transportation encourages parents and communities to help children establish ongoing walking and cycling programs.
“The physical fitness benefits are obvious. What’s interesting is that if more children walked or bicycled to school, fewer cars would be nearby at pick-up and drop-off locations, making it safer for walkers and bicyclists,” said Safe Routes to School Coordinator Jeff Cremer. “Fewer vehicles also result in fewer air pollutants. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air quality.”
One of the most popular program activities is called the walking school bus. Groups of children walk designated routes to school under adult supervision, picking up kids along the way just like a bus. For some neighborhoods it’s a casual group walk, while others set up a formal plan with adults scheduled to walk on certain days. Families who live farther from school can drive part of the way and join the walk along the designated route.
MoDOT oversees the Safe Routes to School program which provides children in grades K-8 with education, training and infrastructure for bicycling and walking to school safely. The program is designed to provide public awareness and outreach to encourage walking and bicycling to school, instead of riding in cars and buses.
Is the event at your school on the national list? Find out by visiting www.walkbiketoschool.org. There you can learn more about how your community benefits when students walk and bike to school.