Department of Highways, District 11
OCTOBER IS WALK TO SCHOOL MONTH Children Take Steps to Healthier Lifestyle
MANCHESTER, Ky. – Be on the lookout next month, and in the months to come, for an increasing number of students walking to school. International Walk to School Month is planned for October, with Walk to School Day, October 3rd.
Kentucky’s Walk to School events are conducted as part of the Transportation Cabinet’s Safe Routes to School program, a sustained, community effort to improve the health and well-being of children by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier and more enjoyable. In July 2005, congress passed federal legislation that established the Safe Routes to School program. The program dedicates a total of $612 million toward Safe Routes from 2005 to 2009.
“These are tremendous projects that give us the opportunity to help support alternative forms of transportation, improve the environment and aesthetic quality of our communities, and support healthier lifestyles by providing biking and pedestrian facilities that might otherwise be funded,” said Governor Ernie Fletcher. “Approximately $2 million dollars in Safe Routes funding has been administered by the Transportation Cabinet in the last two years. These are investments that will help us build healthy, strong communities and improve our environment for generations to come.”
Walk to School Day was established in the U.S. in 1997, and became an international program in 2000. The day began as a simple idea – children, parents, and school officials walking to school together on a designated day. Today, more than 5,000 schools in the U.S. participate, with nearly 4 million participating in 40 countries nationwide. Schools typically focus on health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment during the month.
“Walk to School Day is an energizing event, reminding everyone of the simple joy of walking to school, the health benefits of regular daily activity, and the need for safe places to walk and bike,” said Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator Morgan Wilson.
The benefits of walking to school extend beyond increasing physical activity, such as decreasing congestion surrounding schools, increasing an emphasis on pedestrian safety in the community, decreasing emissions surrounding the school and even improving student behavior, performance and alertness within the classroom.
Schools can register to participate in a Walk to School event at www.walktoschool.org. Registration is free. Ideas, activities, lesson plans, and a map of participating schools is available as well as a variety of free downloadable materials, including certificates, templates for printing stickers and a frequent walker punch card.