As much as I wish that there were no need for such a proclamation, today is International Walk to School Day. Founded to promote establishing safe routes to school so that children can reap the social and health benefits of walking to school, the organization also notes the environmental benefits walking provides.
My family is fortunate to live very close (under 1/4 mile) from our local Austin ISD elementary school. We walk to and from school every day, collecting a slew of neighbor children on our way. I can attest to the social benefits of our morning walk: the kids chatter about what they did the night before, and the adults swap sports scores and daily to-do lists. We have met a lot of neighbors by way of our walking to school, and having a friendlier community is better for everyone.
If you don’t have a safe, walkable (or bikeable) route to school, check out these resources to get some ideas for how improvements can be made in your neighborhood. These routes can pave the way (pardon the pun) for a safer neighborhood for all, not just children on their way to and from school. For many families, the morning time crunch may be an impediment to walking or biking to school. Perhaps you can set a goal of just one morning per week of leaving the car at home and getting to school under your own power. The kids will likely enjoy the adventure, and I’ve long promoted exercise first thing in the morning as a way to boost energy all day. And what an efficient way to establish a routine of regular exercise!
Walking to school provides one other significant benefit: I am grateful every day that I do not have to participate in the carpool line rodeo. Isn’t that motivation enough to lace up your shoes?