International Walk & Bike to School Day - 2012
It is right around the corner, next week. I thought I'd put a little plug out there to get us thinking about how we'll be getting to school next Wednesday. It's International Walk & Bike to School Day.
Last week at our local city council meeting, the mayor proclaimed October 3, 2012 "Walk and Roll to School Day 2012" in Alameda, and my family was there to acknowledge and receive the proclamation. As part of my "thank you" comments, I highlighted the top three reasons I believe so whole-heartedly in walking and rolling to school.
- It creates community. The moment we set foot out the door and head toward school, we see neighbors, wave "hellos", and exchange "good mornings." In my 1+ year in my new neighborhood, I have never met as many families as I did in the first 5 days of walking to school.
- Increased physical activity can improve concentration. Even when I have to sit through long meetings, leaving the room to do 10 jumping jacks can help me return with more focus. A walk or bike ride to school can have the same effect on our kids.
- It reduces the number of vehicles at the school and reduces risk of accidents. Cars, glare from the sun, kids walking (sometimes darting), opening doors: it all gives me the heebie-jeebies. YIKES!
No doubt, many of our schools have traditions and ongoing walk & bike efforts. But, what if we don't? Where to start?
This is our second year at our neighborhood elementary and middle schools. Last year, we were too befuddled to get involved, as we barely knew the route to school by the time International Walk & Bike to School Day came around in early October. When we dug our heels in to plan for next Wednesday, this cheat sheet on First-Time Tips for Walk & Bike Day was pretty key.
The day is so near, that even Planning an Event in 7 Days might be a bit tight. But, what we can all do is certain try to participate in whatever way we can. Still, it's not easy. Consider the following:
- "I leave for work early & cannot walk/ride with my daughter next Wednesday." A single mama reached out to me the other day, as she leaves very early and drops her daughter at school 30 minutes before the bell rings. She very much wants her daughter to participate on Wednesday. How? Our school has four meeting points and we chose the closest one to her. We mapped a safe route for this 6th grader to pedal over to meet the group solo. Also: we put out an email to the yahoo group seeking a buddy to join her for her maiden voyage. Still awaiting a match!
- "What is something happens?" The other day, I received a mass email from our middle school's administration stating that two students walking to school were approached by two adult men in a vehicle. Although no words were exchanged, the two students hurried on their way to school and notified staff. The buddy system works; safety in numbers. These students did the right thing in that they stayed together and let staff know when something odd happens.
- "We live too far from school." Meeting points are a great way to let our students walk in a group the final stretch to school. Dropping off at an alternative location aside from school also reduces the number of vehicles near/at school, which - in the end - reduces risk of accidents. Safety first!
- "My son has special needs and cannot walk." I was flyering parked cars in front of school last year with info about walking & biking to school, when a parent told me her son was unable to participate. I do know of students ride the bus to school, with wheelchair capability. Also, for students in a wheelchair, walking groups from a meeting point could be an option for involvement so long as the route is checked for appropriate curb cuts at every intersection.
We hope for a rousing success for International Walk & Roll to School Day next week. Are you ready? Will you get the kids up a little earlier than usual to participate? Does your school have festivities planned? Maybe a morning line dance before school, nutritious treats, prizes? Are there issues that keep you and your child(ren) from participating next week? Walk one, walk all! Embrace Walk & "Roll" Day at your school.