[UPDATE] 10-6 1:20PM --
The Florida Departments of Health (FDOH) and Transportation (FDOT) are teaming up to promote the health and well-being of school children for International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 6. FDOH’s 13 regional coordinators, FDOT’s seven districts and many local partners are contributing to the over 150 events planned in Florida.
Now in its 13th year, Walk to School Day is a part of an international effort in more than 40 countries to celebrate the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school. Walk to School Day is intended to encourage more families to get out of the car and onto their feet on the way to school throughout October, which is International Walk to School Month.
“Walking to school is a wonderful way to incorporate physical activity into every weekday,” State Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros, M.D., M.P.H., said. “There are four times as many overweight children today as there were 25 years ago and children who join a walking school bus will increase their physical activity and improve their health.”
FDOT coordinates the federally-funded Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, which is a sustained effort that involves parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments in enabling and encouraging children to walk and bicycle to school. SRTS activities include constructing sidewalks, raising awareness of school zones and encouraging students to take active trips to school.
“Our number one goal is safety and that includes helping children arrive safely at school,” said Secretary Stephanie C. Kopelousos. “If we can help children learn to stop, look and listen, we can help them stay safe on their walk to school.”
In the last year, the departments have collaborated on FDOH’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, which promotes physical activity through support of International Walk to School Day and Walking School Buses. Throughout the week, schools across the state will be implementing the Walking School Bus concept where parents or responsible adults walk or bicycle with groups of children to teach safety practices.
In the United States, Walk to School Day grows in numbers and relevance each year. More than 3,000 schools in all 50 states are celebrating the simple act of walking and bicycling to school. Walking or bicycling to school embodies two main goals of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign in that it increases kids’ physical activity and empowers parents to make healthy choices.
Atlanta, Georgia –
Thousands of Georgia elementary and middle school students from nearly 100 schools marked the 13th annual International Walk To School Day with various activities this morning aimed at promoting healthy and safe walking and bicycling to and from school.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr., joined students, parents, faculty and staff of Atlanta’s Mary Lin Elementary School in arrival festivities. “This is a wonderful event and it serves a great purpose,” Smith said. “So many children will enjoy walking or biking to school if we’ll just continue to make it convenient and safe for them to do so. They’ll be healthier and roads and streets around schools will be that less crowded.”
International Walk to School Day was established in the United States in 1997 by Partnership for a Walkable America, a national alliance of public and private organizations committed to making walking safer, easier, and more enjoyable. The event is now marked in 40 countries and at more than 2,400 schools in the United States. The program shares the goal of the federal Safe Routes to School Program, which is to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to safely walk and bicycle to school.
Less than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or biking. Instead, one-quarter are made on a school bus and over half of all children arrive at school in private vehicles, according to Georgia DOT’s Safe Routes To School Coordinator Emmanuella Myrthil. While walking to school was commonplace just a generation ago, traffic jams around schools are now the norm. The decline in walking and biking has had an adverse effect on traffic congestion and air quality around schools. Up to 25 percent of traffic congestion is caused by parents dropping children off at school.
Tampa, Florida (Oct. 5, 2010) — (Press Release) --
Across the globe, millions of children, parents, and school officials will celebrate International Walk to School Day in an effort to promote physical activity, encourage safe pedestrian habits and highlight the environmental benefits of walking. Less than 50 percent of students who live closer than a mile from school opt to walk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. AAA encourages parents to walk with their children to school tomorrow in an effort to promote health and teach their children safe walking habits. More than 585,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers in 30,000 schools across the United States will participate in the event tomorrow, like every other day, keep children safe as they travel to and from school.
In 2009, approximately 13,000 child pedestrians age 14 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes. Education and public awareness of traffic safety issues are vital to the reduction of such injuries and fatalities.
“Parents are key in setting the safety standards for their children. Establishing the safest route to and from school and pointing out potential dangers are essential," said Leticia Messam, Manager, AAA Traffic Safety Programs. "Opportunities like International Walk to School Day are perfect for facilitating discussion and providing lessons in traffic safety."
AAA encourages children who walk to school to:
- Follow the guidance of crossing guards and AAA School Safety Patrollers.
-Cross the street at corners and intersections whenever possible, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
-Never run out into the streets or cross between parked cars.
-Always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus where the driver can see them.
AAA encourages motorists to:
-Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
-Take extra time to look for children at intersections, medians and on curbs.
-Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
-Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours.
-Allow extra time on your morning and afternoon commute.
-Reduce any distractions inside your vehicle that take focus off the road and your surroundings.