Walk to school safely

children in crosswalkInternational Walk to School Day — a day that thousands of schools across America celebrate — is just a couple weeks away on Oct. 9. By encouraging your child to walk or bike to school, you promote good health through exercise, help relieve traffic congestion and decrease air pollution. Walking to school also builds a sense of community.

Before children walk to school, ensure they:

  • Are ready to walk alone. Although there are no laws stating at what age a child should be allowed to walk to school, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises that some children are ready to cross a street alone by age 10. The decision to allow a child to walk or bike to school should also depend on the abilities of the child, the potential routes and the weather.
  • Know pedestrian safety. The Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian Safer Journey offers free videos, quizzes and resources targeted toward children ages five to 18. Children learn how to cross the street, be seen and avoid distractions.
  • Have walking buddies. A group of children walking together can be more visible to a motorist than one child alone. Buddies also make the trip to and from school more fun. Be sure to talk to the group about the risks of horseplay near traffic.
  • Take the safest route. Choose a route with sidewalks if you can, and one that crosses very few, if any, busy streets. Avoid construction, even if this will result in a longer walk. Always accompany a child on the first walk of a new route.

International Walk to School Day in Kansas City helps families, students and communities share in the benefits of walking to school. Some walk to increase interaction with friends, classmates and other parents, while others focus on the benefits of increased physical activity, environmental air quality, and safety for pedestrians.

If you would like more information on this event or on how to organize a year-round walking program at your school, contact Aaron Bartlett at 816-701-8238 or abartlett@marc.org.

photo credit: jeweledlion via photopin cc

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