To promote healthy physical activity in youth and the idea of safe, walkable neighborhoods, the Partnership for a Walkable America started national Walk to School Day in 1997. It takes place this year on October 4th and is now recognized in 40 different countries around the world.
If you can walk to school on that day, great! You will get some exercise and an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective on the way to school. What will you think about? What will you learn?
Every community has unique characteristics that make it interesting. On the way to school, look at the buildings, traffic signs, plants, and animals. Talk with friends both new and old. Above all else, practice safety tips like looking both ways before crossing the street and always use crosswalks.
Walk to School Day – Other Options for Fun in the Neighborhood
Some groups associated with school life may organize walking schedules for groups of students. Parents can get together and plan the trip, too. Although ‘walk’ is in the name of the day, there are other options for fun. Consider skipping, hopping, or dancing on the way to school instead.
Take a bit of time to plan the walk in advance. Look at a map to identify points of interest. These can be anything from mentioning different types of businesses to teach kids about community helpers to historical points of interest. Create a simple visual scavenger hunt in which students can find letters, numbers, colors, or more advanced things depending on their ages. Bring along a healthy snack to share with the group.
You can also strap on a pair of cool Nattork roller skates and roll your way there. These can make the trip faster, more stylish, and more fun. They also give kids an excellent way to get even more fitness in during play time after the school day ends.
One other great idea for walking to school is to document the special day’s activities. Take pictures and post them on the school website. This can encourage other kids in the neighborhood to make the switch, too. It can also drum up interest for play dates or future organized events.
Organize the Community for Walkability
Not every town or city is set up for safe walking to school and other locations like shops or even friends’ houses. While school life takes up a lot of time and energy, it is just as important to give young people more of an opportunity to explore and feel safe in their own area. Meet with other parents, join the PTA, or create an afterschool program to promote walking and other fun activities like roller skating.
While Walk to School Day may not be possible for some kids, there are always options to explore to get the same benefits. Make the trip to school more of an adventure and learning experience. Most of all, support initiatives to make your area more walkable such as hiring crossing guards or better sidewalk maintenance. Everyone can benefit.