Green your way to school on National Walk to School Day!

How many of you still have grandparents, or great-grandparents, that talk about how far they had to walk to school? In the snow. Uphill both ways.

Sunset School built in 1890

Sunset School built in 1890

The school that my boys go to was originally built in a general store in 1892. The area was growing, but the primary reason was because the families were tired of sending their children up the hill (and this is really up the hill!) for the 45 minute walk it took to get to the original town schoolhouse, Sunset School. Can you imagine if our primary school students were expected to walk that distance every day today?

National Walk to School Day is coming up on October 5. In years past, my own kids have not been able to take part on this particular day, but I love that we live close enough to walk to their primary school; supervised by mama for now, but as they get older I know we can figure out a safe route for them. Green living and green parenting mean taking the small and the big steps in lots of aspects of our lives.

National Walk To School Dayphoto credit: Ed L on flickr

In 1969, nearly 50 percent of students in grades K through eight walked or bicycled to school. The distance at that time was often shorter than in the late 1800s, but the number getting to school using their own power was still significant compared to now. By 2009, less than 13 percent walked or biked to school. That is a huge difference and a serious opportunity lost to get kids outside, get a little exercise, and teach children some independence and responsibility – but safely.

I understand that times have certainly changed since 1892, and since the late 60s, but the fact remains that fewer and fewer children are getting to school by braving the elements and making their own way to school and home. My own typically brave the elements to make their way to the school bus stop, which is the highlight of my kindergartener’s day now, but on nice days it is good for all of us to walk that mile. We get fresh air, a little vitamin D, a little nature, and time to talk and play.

Don’t have the time to walk your kids to or from school? Get involved with other parents in the neighborhood and start a walking school bus, advocate for better safety resources for children walking to school, or work with the school, city, parents, children, and local law enforcement to develop a safety education program to make it possible.

The benefits of walking are clear providing physical activity, reduction of air pollution, as well as greater exposure to nature which can reduce stress, relief of ADHD symptoms in children and increased cognitive and motor functioning. National Walk to School Day is one simple way you can green your school, green your life, even if for one day. Who knows? Maybe it will spark more interest!

Will you be walking on October 5th?


Green your way to school on National Walk to School Day! — 10 Comments

  1. I love this idea (and event). We have become a society that doesn’t allow any inconvenience or discomfort … and in the process we are hurting ourselves and our children. Walking and being outside is good for us. Now some might say that it’s dangerous for children to walk to school … and in that event, I suggest that parents walk with their kids. And if, because of traffic or lack of sidewalks, it’s dangerous for everyone, then yeah … perhaps driving is necessary. But in that case, perhaps people can start a campaign to provide safe walkways.

    • Very true, and I recognize that as individuals (and even as individual families) walking to school may not be the right choice, but if the community comes together to make it safe, to make it easier, then more will choose it. Plus, if every child walked to school only some of the time, it would still take the burden off our streets and air for that time.

  2. Very cool idea! We live 13 miles away, though… I’m going to exempt Gabe! :) We love his school, but that is one thing I don’t care for – all the driving. It is SO much!

  3. We will! My son is in first grade, and we enjoy our 5-block walk to school every day. This year I’m pleased that our neighbors are allowing their daughter to walk with us instead of driving her!

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