Have you been noticing those low-to-the-ground signs asking drivers to be aware of pedestrians over the past few days near certain schools? That's because this Wednesday, October 8 is International Walk to School Day. Yes, we have a day dedicated to getting students to walk to school. Remember walking to school? I do, but it wasn't always five miles in waist-deep snow. Even during my school days, my parents drove me back and forth plenty. But, walking to school has become a foreign concept for many (no, not all) over the years due to way too many factors to list here. Actually the whole month of October is all about getting students to walk to their schools. It's a tall order here in metro Atlanta. With a haphazard road layout, impatient drivers (who sometimes drive on the sidewalks) and inconsistent sidewalks, paths and/or trails, it's no wonder that this community is far too "car-centric."
The idea to promote walking to school was hatched overseas in Great Britain about 20 years ago. It came stateside in 1997 when Partnership for a Walkable America held a walk in Chicago followed by Los Angeles. Those walks inspired the first International Walk to School Day in October 2000 when 2.5 million walkers participated from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, to Gibraltar, Cyprus and more. One year after that first walk, 21 countries signed up and recently, it was reported that 42 countries are participating in the event.
It's more than obvious International Walk to School Day is designed to make kids more aware of physical fitness which is lacking in many of their lives. Further, International Walk to School Day makes all of us aware of the fact that fewer vehicles on the road equals fewer traffic jams and reduced fuel emissions.
So lace up those shoes and walk with the kids to school. Well, certainly the older kids would prefer to walk among themselves. For more information on International Walk to School Day, visit their website which is chock full of information concerning event registration, pedestrian safety, physical fitness tips and more.