October 06, 2010

Happy International Walk to School Day!

Walk to SchoolI used to walk five miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways! It’s a classic eye-roll-inducing story, but despite the exaggeration it speaks to a larger truth—walking to school is a fading phenomenon.

In 1969, 48 percent of U.S. children walked or rode their bikes to school. In 2009, that percentage was 13. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the same four decades the percentage of children being driven to school by their parents has increased from 12 to 44.

International Walk to School Day hopes to reverse this troubling decline in the number of children who get to school using the power of their own two legs. In 1997, the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago; by 2002, children, parents, teachers and community leaders in all 50 states joined nearly 3 million walkers around the world to celebrate the second annual International Walk to School Day.

The benefits of walking or biking to school are obvious. It’s healthy, for one. There’s no gas guzzling required. And streets filled with more pedestrians and bikers not only push city officials to address hazardous road conditions, but also force drivers to be more attentive.

We just love to see kids outside, whether they are playing, biking, or trudging uphill in the snow. Here's to making every day a Walk to School Day.

Photo courtesy of Odessa Kilpatrick Elementary. See more photos.

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