Instead of their usual morning ride, kids from dozens of Iowa schools will be hoofing it to class next Wednesday (Oct. 5th) as part of International Walk to School Day. Nick Sobocinski, director of the Safe Routes to School program at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says the leaders of 46 schools in 29 Iowa cities have signed on for the event.
“Every state in the country and 40 countries around the world will be participating and just having kids walk or ride their bike to school on that day so they can see how easy it is to not be dropped off by their mom or dad in the morning,” Sobocinski says. “They can walk a mile in 20 minutes or a half-mile in ten minutes, get a little exercise before the day starts and hopefully, have a better day in the classroom.”
He says walking to and from school has huge benefits for a child’s health, the safety of streets and the cleanliness of the environment. Studies say children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day and he says walking to school is a great way to start.
Sobocinski says, “If we’re getting more kids walking, our goal would be for more communities to recognize that and look to improve sidewalks and crosswalks and get more signage around schools to make parents feel more comfortable and kids feel safer when they’re making the trek to school.”
Research finds up to a quarter of all morning traffic is the result of parents driving kids to school. The federal E.P.A. says air quality is measurably better around schools when more kids walk instead of being dropped off by family vehicles. “We like to see all the school population that isn’t typically bused walking to school on that day,” Sobocinski says.
“A lot of schools even set up walking courses around their campus for kids that are bused in so they’re able to get a little exercise in the morning and feel like they’re participating with their peers.” He says registration will provide schools access to free resources that can help in planning and promotion of International Walk to School Day. Learn more at the website: www.walktoschool.com.
Some of the Iowa schools taking part are in: Altoona, Anita, Ankeny, Atlantic, Battle Creek, Bellevue, Bussey, Cedar Falls, Coralville, Decorah, Des Moines, Elkader, Essex, Grundy Center, Hamburg, Iowa City, Leon, Marengo, Massena, Milford, North Liberty, Sibley, Sioux City, Spencer, Spirit Lake, Stuart, Waterloo, Waverly and West Des Moines.