Students at various schools in the and cluster schools joined millions of other students from across the United States and 40 other countries to participate in International Walk to School Day- "Walk it, Bike it, Like it" Wednesday.
The event, launched and piloted in 1994 in Great Britain, was first adapted in the United States in 1997 in Chicago and Los Angeles schools with the support of the non-profit organization “Partnership for a Walkable America”.
Currently, over 35 countries and 2,800 schools in the US participate in International Walk to School Day. Millions of students from Argentina to India to Nigeria to New Zealand and Turkey choose to take part in walking to school on WTS day.
The Safe Routes to School PTA Committee organized Walk to School Day at Simpson Elementary. Parent volunteers cheered and encouraged students along their walk and passed out Clean Air campaign “No Idling- Young Lungs at Work” stickers. The local fire department and Sparky, the school’s mascot, was on hand.
“It’s obvious to me that kids love to walk to school. It’s great for them to get fresh air and exercise first thing in the morning. We walk nearly every day; today I saw easily 10 times or more the number of students walking to school. I’d love to see this every day. The energy of everyone was amazing,” said Amanda Smith.
According to its website, International Walk to School is more than just getting together with children and going for a walk to school as a special event. This is certainly important, but the event's greater aim is to bring forth permanent change in communities across the globe.
Below are just a few of its goals:
- Encourage physical activity by teaching children the skills to walk safely, how to identify safe routes to school, and the benefits of walking.
- Raise awareness of how walkable a community is and where improvements can be made.
- Raise concern for the environment.Reduce crime and take back neighborhoods for people on foot.
- Reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and speed near schools.
- Share valuable time with local community leaders, parents, and children.
The goal of the walk varies from community to community. Some walks rally for safer and improved streets, some to promote healthier habits and some to conserve the environment. Whatever the reason, International Walk to School events encourage a more walkable world — one community at a time.