Today, communities across the Commonwealth and throughout the country will join together to celebrate International Walk to School Day. Schools, towns, public health organizations, and parents alike are organizing walking school buses, group walks and other activities to highlight and celebrate the benefits of choosing student-powered transportation to school.
One school in the Short Pump area, Gayton Elementary School, is participating in the event. The total number of participating schools is expected to grow throughout October, which is National Walk to School Month.
Walk to School Day was established in the United States in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America. Canada and Great Britain already had walk to school programs in place. In 2000, these three countries joined together to create International Walk to School Day.
In May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School was established to assist communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bike to school.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of schools in Virginia that participate in Walk to School Day each year. Eighty-one schools participated in 2011 and 54 in 2010; this year over 100 have registered to participate which doubles the number of schools participating in the past two years, and we expect more schools to hold events throughout the month of October,” said Rob Williams, Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Safe Routes to School coordinator.
“Many of these schools have received funding or technical assistance through VDOT’s program, but they have all taken it upon themselves to participate in this event, and to send the message to their students about the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.”
Walk to School Day encourages a walk-focused celebration in the month of October, building support among teachers, parents and students for walking and biking to school year-round.