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International Walk to School Day

Walking school bus on International Walk to School Day

Does this look dangerous to you?

Today, October 6, 2010, is International Walk to School Day.

In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the very first National Walk Our Children to School Day.  This was in Chicago and the event was modeled after a similar one in the United Kingdom.  The point was to bring awareness of the need for walkable communities.

Today, the idea that walking to school is good for kids and communities has spread across the country with millions of students in all 50 states participating in International Walk to School Day.  So, did your kid walk to school today?

Mine did not.  We live several miles and one busy road from school and to walk there would not only be time consuming, but dangerous as well. At any rate, my child’s school was not one of the hundreds that encouraged students to hoof it today anyway.  In fact, I am pretty sure the powers-that-be at her school would have been mighty displeased to find a whole bunch of bus-and-car-riders showing up on foot this morning.

The lack of a safe way to get to school on foot is a common reason many children are driven to school rather than walk.  But it’s not the only one.  As Lenore Skenazy at Free Range Kids points out, some schools just don’t want to deal with it.

At one school, parents who wanted to volunteer to serve as crossing guards had to undergo extensive background checks.  That same school, while encouraging the adoption of “Walk to School Wednesdays,” actually forbids children on bus routes from walking to school any other day.

While I am not sure how any school administrator has the authority to forbid a child from getting to school any way they want to, there it is.  What good reason could they possibly have for such a ridiculous rule?  And is the fear of volunteer pedophiles really valid?

Studies have shown that walking to school is good for kids.  It reduces stress and has long-term health benefits.  Why don’t all schools encourage it every day?

Image: MoBikeFed/Flickr

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