Fall is in the air. The leaves rustle in the tree tops as they hold on just a while longer, then make their descent to the cool autumn ground. The brisk air of a fall morning fills your lungs. A game of following the leader begins as the backpacks bounce around on the shoulders of children. Yes, it’s that exhilarating time of year where students, parents, teachers and community members all come together to walk to school.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of International Walk to School Day; a day where we all join together for a sense of adventure and independence, while bettering our community one step at a time. This year Mesa County will celebrate Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 19th.
Tope Elementary celebrates Walk to School Day every year. The teachers, staff, and parents believe that it is a great way to start the day. Toni Gunther, P.E. teacher at Tope, sees first-hand the impact motor vehicles have at the school, “Our morning student drop-off and afternoon pickup times are congested, resulting in more pollution than any other time of the day.” Tope staff, students, and families will meet at Sherwood Park on Wednesday morning and form a “Walking School Bus” to Tope. Another fun incentive for students participating in Walk to School at Tope includes prize drawings. All Tope students who walk or bike on Oct. 19th will have a chance to win. Toni wants to thank the community for their support, “We appreciate everyone in Grand Junction “Sharing the Road” to promote activity and helping Tope make sure our students are safe not only during the month of October but all year long!”
Even if your school isn’t hosting a Walk to School event, you can still participate! Walk to School is much more than a day to meander around; it’s a way we can better our environment by decreasing our emissions, a day to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles, a way to get our day’s started on a good note with some fresh air and light exercise.
Not only are we helping make our kids healthier by walking to school, but we are also making them smarter too. By walking or bicycling to school kids are able to work at meeting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Physical activity reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and improves the overall health of youth. Studies have shown that when students exercise before school, they enter the classroom focused and ready to learn. When kids are more focused, they retain more knowledge and have better academic performance. Walking and riding to school creates a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. Why not start this week?
Here are some important things to consider when planning your walk.
Remember, safety first! When preparing for your journey to school make sure to plan your route before leaving. The beauty of riding your bike or strolling the sidewalks to school is that you can get creative with your path and can explore areas otherwise forbidden when inside a vehicle. Check out the interactive map to find routes to your school!
Use walking to school as an opportunity to teach your children how to safely and properly cross streets, and emphasize the importance of using sidewalks, paying attention to traffic, and to be mindful of others who share the walkways. Safety tips while walking to school include:
There are truly countless potential advantages of walking or biking to school, so lace up your walking shoes or mount your bike, get your body moving!
For additional information and resources on walking and biking to school visit http://www.saferoutesinfo.org