Walk to School Day is October 5, 2016
Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk to School Day in the USA began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. The event became international in 2000 when the USA, UK and CA all celebrated together on the first Wednesday of October. Currently, the international celebration includes 40 countries. From 2005-2010, a National Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program was federally funded. Some states still have designated SRTS funds. In 2015, there were 5,034 Walk to School Day events; many more communities held events but did not register.
- Walk to School Day Facebook Event Page
Invite your affiliates, sub-recipients, and general Facebook Followers to “Like” the
Walk to School Day 2016 Facebook Event Page! This is a great place to find links to recordings of the Walk to School and Vision Zero Webinar; the Slow Your Streets: A How-To Guide for Pop-Up Traffic Calming Webinar; and the #WalktoSchool Day Twitter Chat on October 5th, 1:00 pm. It is also a central place for affiliates and sub-recipients to post their fliers, photos and videos of their Walk to School Day activities.
- #WalktoSchool Day Twitter Chat, Wednesday, October 5, 1:00 PM Creating Healthy and Walkable Communities
Guests: @Trailnet @moveUSmore
The Directors of Health Education and Promotion will host a #WalktoSchool Day Twitter Chat at 1:00 pm ET (correct?) on Wednesday, October 5, 2016. Our guests will be: @Trailnet, a member of the St. Louis Plan4Health Coalition and the National Physical Activity Society who will discuss safer and healthier communities through physical activity, active infrastructure and safe route to school strategies implemented at the community level. #WalktoSchool Day #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Support the Local Coalitions coalitions focusing on enhancing the built environment to improve community health as part of the CDC National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention. The American Planning Association’s Plan4Health project features coalitions working on safe routes to school and traffic calming in the following areas:
Sample Facebook Posts
- Why I Walk? For my child’s health, US Dept. of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day to decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? Walk to School Day, Oct 5th is a great way to be a part of a global event and to promote health, to identify safer routes for walking in my community, and to improve air quality by parking my car. #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? To create a healthy lifestyle. Physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, which means that the behavior of regular physical activity early needs to be fostered at an early age. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? To monitor the traffic needs of my community. Daily walking opens everyone’s eyes to the need for sidewalks and trails, safe street crossings, more cautious drivers, safer walkers and bicyclists, and even state legislation to fund improvements. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? To connect with my community. A walk to school improves neighborhood connections and boosts a sense of community. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? To talk to my child. We can enjoy one another’s company without the usual distractions. I get the opportunity to talk with my child about whatever is on their mind, and I get the benefit of building a strong relationship for the future. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Oct 5th – 20th Anniversary of Walk to School Day! Plan to get involved even if you live far away from school! Here’s how… Families who live too far to walk or bicycle, families with limited routes for walking and bicycling, bus riders and children with disabilities, can meet up at a designated starting point. Gather a group of your child’s friends and their parents and make it happen! #Partnering4Health #WTSD
- It’s Walk to School Day! Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Now’s the time to encourage the kids you love to stay active and incorporate physical activity into their daily routine. Join them on a walk to school, and get the entire family active! #Partnering4Health#WTSD20
- Looking for a healthy way to start the day? Jump-start your morning by walking with your child to school on Oct 5th Walk to School Day #WTSD20! #Partnering4Health
- Walking your child to school on Walk to School Day Oct 5th is a great opportunity to help your child learn and practice safe walking skills. #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- If you live too far from your child’s school to walk, here’s what You CAN DO: Drive part of the distance, then Park and Walk the rest of the way! Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Let’s get out and walk our children to school today! Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Did you know that physically active children are more likely to become physically active adults? Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Get out and walk. Just one hour of physical activity can decrease my child’s risk of obesity. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? To have a non-distracted moment to talk with my child about whatever is on their mind. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? To develop an early behavior of physical fitness for a long, healthy life. Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? Because physically, active kids become healthy and fit adults. #chronicdiseaseprevention Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Why I Walk? Walk for Fitness and Walk for Fun! Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health Join and post pics on the WTSD FB Event Page!
- Are you walking your child to school today? How was the experience? Oct 5th #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health
- Walking your child to school on Oct 5th? Post a picture/video on the Walk to School Day FB Event Page! #WTSD20 #Partnering4Health #Selfie
- Walking your child to school on Oct 5th #WTSD20 is an opportunity to teach and practice safe walking skills w/your child. #Partnering4Health
Sample Announcement for Newsletter, Listserv, Blog Post or Media Release
Cut and paste this text into your newsletter, listserv, blog post, or media release. Add relevant details and quotes from your organization.
[Insert Heading Specific to Organization’s Role in Walk to School Day]
Wednesday, October 5, 2016 is Walk to School Day! #WTSD20
[CITY, STATE] Oct. 5, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of National Walk to School Day, when thousands of students, parents, community leaders, state and local officials across the United States will walk to school. This one-day event is aimed at building awareness of the need for walkable communities. National Walk to School Day promotes the many benefits of walking to school such as building daily physical activity behaviors, more accessible and safer routes to school, and cleaner air. Currently, [Organization] is implementing a project to address healthy communities’ initiatives in [name of community].
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, walking to school can contribute significantly to children getting the recommended amount of 60 minutes per day of daily physical activity. A simple daily walk is a chance for children (and adults) to create a fitness regimen out of an everyday task. In addition to creating a healthy lifestyle, walking to school gives parents, children and friends the chance to enjoy one another’s company without the typical commuting distractions. “A walk home is a great antidote from a hard day at school or work. Being active outdoors improves creativity, decreases stress hormones and calms aggression which leads to a general improvement in mental health,” said [spokesperson/organization/title].
Walk to School Day also emphasizes the benefits of replacing car rides to school with walking and how it can significantly reduce traffic congestion and air-polluting emissions. Walking and bicycling to school also provides opportunities for children and families to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the overall health of the environment. Studies have shown the result to be that air quality is measurably better at schools that have more students walking or bicycling to school.
Walking to school can impart healthy living behaviors, assist in the creation of safer and accessible streets, cleaner air and develop stronger community involvement with families. Event organizers have reported that Walk to School events have resulted in policy or changes that improve safety for walkers and bicyclists in the community, such as increased traffic enforcement near the school or the addition of newer walkways for the community, better air quality, and healthier communities.
This is part of a larger initiative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention to increase the nation’s quality of life and well-being by preventing and controlling chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, through population-based strategies at the community level.
In 2015, there were 5,034 Walk to School Day events. Many more communities held events but did not register. List your planned Walk to School event at www.walkbiketoschool.org/register. For more information, contact [insert contact information].
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) provides funding for the project and leads the national conversation to create healthy communities. This grantee program is made possible through a grant provided to [National Organization] as part of Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) DP14-1418: National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day.
- Physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, which means that the behavior of regular, physical activity needs to be fostered at an early age.
- Potential benefits of physical activity for youth include:
- Weight control
- Reducing blood pressure
- Raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Improved cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular fitness and bone health
- Reduction in the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
- Improved mental health
- In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). Priority must be placed on making it possible for everyone to walk safely, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
- Of the children injured or killed on the roads worldwide each year, 38% are pedestrians.
- Daily walking opens everyone’s eyes to the need for sidewalks and trails, safe street crossings, more cautious drivers, safer walkers and bicyclists, and even state legislation to fund improvements.
- Walk at School Events: If students and parents are uncomfortable with walking to school because the distance is too far or the neighborhood too dangerous, a Walk at School event can be a good solution. The event may be held in the school gymnasium or throughout the school campus. Often these one day events grown into year-long programs to promote the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity.
- Walking School Buses (WSBs) are groups of children who walk designated routes to school under adult supervision, sometimes picking up kids along the way just like a bus. Bicycle trains provide a fun and safe way for students to bike together in a group. Try this for your event and see if there is parent interest to keep it going on a regular basis.
For more details and citations to use for your communication channels, use the information categorized under the topics most compelling for your audience. Topics include:
- Community Participation in Walking to School
- Trends in School Travel
- Factors that Discourage Walking
- Reasons for Walking: challenges, safe driving, physical activity and concern for the environment
Community Participation in #WalktoSchoolDay #WTSD20
- Walk to School Day can help communities connect with many issues they care about whether it’s creating safer routes to school, building a sense of community, or inspiring families to use their feet for the school commute more often.
- Walk to School Day events are an easy way for students and families to try walking and bicycling to school with little commitment.1
- Walking to school creates an opportunity to be outdoors and provides time to connect with parents, friends and neighbors. The entire community benefits when there is less traffic congestion.1
- Walk to School Day events lead to more walking and bicycling throughout the school year and encourage communities to launch ongoing walking and bicycling programs.1
- Walk to School Day events can help encourage communities to implement policy or engineering changes that make it safer to walk and bike to school. In 2014, 70% of event organizers indicated that their event led to planned, or already completed policy or engineering changes.1
- Each year participation in this event grows. More than 5,000 communities registered events on walkbiketoschool.org in 2015 and even more participated but didn’t register online.
Trends in School Travel: Transportation costs are a significant expense
- Walking and bicycling to school can be low-cost alternatives to bus service for some children.
- Environments that support walking and bicycling can help reduce school transportation costs. For example, infrastructure improvements at Pioneer Elementary School in Auburn, Washington, encouraged more children to walk and bicycle to school, decreasing bus use from six buses to one. Transportation costs were reduced by an estimated $220,000 per year and over 85 percent of students now walk or bicycle to school.
- After adjusting for inflation, the average cost per student transported using bus service in 1980-1981 was $537. In 2011-2012 (the most recent year with data available), the average cost had risen to $961.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School’s Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012 Report states that walking to and from school increased significantly between 2007 and 2012.
- From 12.4% to 15.7% in the morning; and from 15.8% to 19.7% in the afternoon.
- Although walking increased among students who attended low-, medium- and high income schools, walking increased especially among students who attended low-income schools (defined as enrolling 75% of students who were eligible to receive free or reduced price meals).
- Although schools located in suburbs, towns, and rural areas witnessed higher rates of walking over time, walking increased especially at schools located in cities.
- Riding a bus to/from school most commonly occurred in rural areas.
- Busing decreased significantly between 2007 and 2012. Within one mile of school, the largest shift between travel modes occurred between busing and walking, with busing decreasing significantly and walking increasing significantly.
- Being driven was most likely to occur in low- and medium-income schools located in cities.
- Younger students were most likely to be driven to school.
- Between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of parents who stated that their child’s school supported walking and bicycling between home and school increased from 24.9 to 33 percent.
Factors That Discourage Walking to School
- School Sitting. (Placing schools within walking distance of residential areas, or near parks and recreation facilities.) Over the past few decades, many school districts have moved away from smaller, centrally located schools and have instead built schools on the edge of communities where land costs are lower and acreage has been more available.
- The more that parents drive their children to school, they more they become convinced that traffic conditions are unsafe for walking or bicycling. According to a 2010 review of over 100,000 parent surveys collected from schools around the United States, the amount of traffic often impacts whether parents allow their children to walk or bicycle to school. Fifty-five percent of parents who reported not allowing their children to walk or bicycle to school identified the number of cars along the route to school as a significant issue in their decision-making process.
Driver behaviors, like speeding and distracted driving, can undermine safety. Attentive drivers traveling at slower speeds can saves lives.
- Speeding reduces a driver’s peripheral vision, increases the distance needed to stop and increases the severity of injury to a pedestrian in a crash.
- A car traveling 40 mph requires 300 feet, or an entire football field, to stop. At 30 mph a car needs 200 feet to stop and at 20 mph requires only 100 feet.
- Higher speeds exponentially increase the chances that a driver will hit a pedestrian crossing or along the roadway and that the injuries sustained will be life changing (brain injury, physical impairment) or life ending.
- Distracted driving draws a driver’s vision from the road, hands off the steering wheel or mind off of the act of driving. Examples include talking or texting on the phone and eating while driving.
- Distracted driving increases the braking distance needed to safely avoid pedestrians and bicyclists. Multi-tasking while driving also slows cognitive ability, processing and reaction time.
- Planning strategies to reduce speed involve building or modifying roads to include features such as traffic lights, roundabouts, and speed humps.
Physical activity contributes to overall health. Potential benefits of physical activity for youth include:
- Weight control
- Reducing blood pressure
- Raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Improved cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular fitness and bone health
- Reduction in the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
- Improved mental health
Many kids are not getting the exercise that they need.
- Children need 60 minutes of physical activity every day.3
- As age or grade in school increases, physical activity participation drastically declines.
- Less active children are more likely to be overweight. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
- Research shows that overweight children are at increased risk of developing obesity, and chronic diseases, such as: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma and various cancer types in adulthood.
- Exposure to nature and time for free outdoor play can have multiple health benefits including stress reduction, relief of ADHD symptoms in children and increased cognitive and motor functioning.
- Children with disabilities are at a higher risk for sedentary behavior and can therefore benefit from more opportunities to be active.
- National Center for Safe Routes to School, www.walkbiketoschool.org.
- Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012, National Center for Safe Routes to School
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/
Why Walk to School?
It’s Fun! Parents, children and friends can enjoy one another’s company without the usual distractions. Older children can enjoy a sense of responsibility and independence. Walk to School Day events lead to more walking and bicycling throughout the school year and encourages communities to launch ongoing walking and bicycling programs.
Build Healthy Habits. Walking to schools is a chance for children (and adults) to create a fitness regimen out of everyday tasks. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Research suggests that physically active kids are more likely to become healthy, physically active adults, underscoring the importance of developing the habit of regular physical activity in children. Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.
Cleaner Environment. Replacing car trips with walking to school can reduce traffic congestion and air-polluting emissions. Vehicles emit a variety of air pollutants that increases ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, such as particles of dust, soot, smoke, dirt and liquid droplets. All of which are even more hazardous when walking along roads with heavy traffic. If possible, parents can adjust walk routes to those with less traffic volume.
Promote Safety. Encouraging walking and bicycling to school can help build support for infrastructure improvements in the broader community. Building sidewalks, providing pedestrian education programs and adding traffic calming measures are some of the ways to improve safety.
Some of the best ways to increase the safety of a child’s walking or biking trip to school are to:
- Provide safe, well-maintained walkways separate from vehicles.
- Teach children to cross streets at marked crossings and to always look left-right-left.
- Slow traffic in neighborhoods and near schools through traffic calming strategies and enforcement efforts.
- Work with parents of children with disabilities and special education professionals to identify accessibility barriers.
Safe Walkways: Often children are faced with incongruous walk-ways. Sidewalks that start and stop. Sidewalks that create barriers to wheelchairs. A safe community provides:
- A continuous sidewalk from home to school;
- Curb ramps at every intersection and at mid-block crossings; and
- Accessible pedestrian signals at intersections.
- When available, cross at a location with an adult school crossing guard.
- Avoid busy, high-speed or multi lane roads, wherever possible.
- Choose sidewalks or paths wherever possible, even if that means the trip will take a little longer.
- If there are no sidewalks or paths, walk as far from motor vehicles as possible, on the side of the street facing traffic.
- Use a route that avoids potential problems like loose dogs, the presence of criminal activity, vacant buildings or poorly lit streets.
Traffic Calming Strategies:
Historically, roads have been built primarily for the benefit of motorized transport, with little consideration of the needs of the communities they pass through. Building new and modifying existing road infrastructure with a concern for safety would enhance the livability of these communities and reduce risks to children from road traffic crashes. Strategies to enhance road infrastructure include:
- Implementing physical measures such as traffic lights, roundabouts, speed humps, cross walks, overpasses, median strips, and street lighting on busy roads;
- Separating different types of traffic and road users through mechanisms such as raised pavements for pedestrians, dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, and median barriers to separate vehicle traffic moving in different directions; and
- Creating car-free zones to enhance the safety of pedestrians.
A walk to school improves neighborhood connections and boosts a sense of community A Walk to School Day event is more widely received when it is congruous with the concerns of the surrounding community, whether that be: traffic speed, the desire for green space, air quality concerns, or safer neighborhoods. The community can use Walk to School Day to rally around these issues and make a difference.
Schools and Community Organizations can organize their own Walk to School Day event
Go to www.walkbiketoschool.org for suggestions on how to start an event or pep-up a pre-existing annual event! Then, Register your event on the Walk to School Day website and find walking checklists, sample press releases, flyers, logos, and more!
The National Center for Safe Routes to School has provided a wealth of resources to assist with planning Walk to School Events, Student participation events, Press Releases and Public Service Announcements to help get the word out in your local communities. www.walkbiketoschool.org.
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