HCPS laces up to celebrate Walk to School Day on October 4th
Join students, families, school leaders, community partners and mayors around the country on October 4th to celebrate the benefits of walking to school during International Walk to School Day. The goal of this day is to raise awareness and support for health, community and environmental benefits of regularly walking or biking to school. International Walk to School Day encourages students around the world to get out and get moving, combating childhood obesity by upping students' activity levels.
While the event only occurs once per year, it's a conversation starter and change initiator for schools and communities. By getting more children and parents out walking, organizers say, they're creating a sense of community, helping others learn safe places to walk and cutting down on fuel emissions and traffic congestion caused by long carpool lines and big, yellow school buses.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity early
This year, Hillsborough County Public Schools hopes to engage even more schools, students and families in this great awareness raising event. Register your school’s event through the end of October to be counted among the thousands of schools who participate each year.
The whole community benefits from efforts to enable and encourage more children to walk or bicycle to school safely. Benefits include:
- Less traffic congestion.According to the 2011 National Center for Safe Routes to School report, personal vehicles taking students to school accounted for 10 to 14 percent of all personal vehicle trips made during the morning peak commute times (based on National Household Travel Survey Data, 2009). Reducing the number of private vehicles commuting to school can reduce morning traffic around the school. Less traffic congestion also improves conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, creating a positive cycle—as the community sees more people walking and biking, more people feel comfortable walking and bicycling.
- Stronger sense of community. The common goal of improving conditions for walking and bicycling brings families, neighbors, school officials and community leaders together. The sense of community also builds as children and parents develop walking and bicycling buddies and chat with neighbors on the sidewalk or path.
- Safer streets.Communities with higher rates of walking and bicycling tend to have lower crash rates for all travel modes. One reason may be that motorists drive more cautiously when they expect to encounter walkers and bicyclists. More walkers and bicyclists can also improve personal security by providing more “eyes on the street.”
- Lower costs.Encouraging and enabling bicycle and pedestrian trips reduces costs for the family, community and school district. Families save on gas, communities spend less on building and maintaining roads and school districts spend less on busing. In fact, one school district calculated $237,000 in annual savings.
- Improved accessibility.Enabling students of all abilities to walk and bicycle to school makes it easier for everyone in the community to get around, including parents with strollers, senior citizens, residents without cars and residents with temporary or permanent mobility impairments.
- Economic gains. Sidewalks, paths and other investments in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure can increase home values and direct additional traffic to local businesses.
International Walk to School Day is held rain or shine.
The first Walk to School Day was organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America back in 1997. The idea went international in 2000 when Canada and the United Kingdom laced up their sneakers to take part. Today, more than 40 countries around the globe participate in International Walk to School Day.
To learn more about International Walk to School Day or Safe Routes to Schools, visit: http://bit.ly/SafeRoutes2School
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