Students join international movement

Kansas City StarSeptember 19, 2013 

Students from five Lee’s Summit elementary schools will be participating in Walk to School Day the week of Oct. 7, joining an international movement. The schools lined up to walk are Highland Park, Lee’s Summit, Longview Farm, Prairie View, and Westview. Here is some background on this international event from National Safe Routes to School:

History

Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk to School Day in the USA began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the U.K. and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the United States joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. Growing interest in participation all over the world led the International Walk to School Committee to shifts its promotion to International Walk to School Month for the entire month of October.

In the USA and Canada, International Walk to School Day galvanizes visibility for walking and bicycling to school. Over time, this event has been part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation – each October. Today, thousands of schools across America and in more than 40 countries worldwide celebrate walking to school every October.

There are many reasons to celebrate – safer and more accessible streets, healthier habits, and cleaner air to name just a few.

Facts and figures: History of Walk to School Day

• The Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago in 1997, modeled after the United Kingdom’s walk to school events, and communities around the United States have been celebrating Walk to School Day ever since.

• The event was established as “International” in 2000, when Canada and the U.K. joined with the U.S. to celebrate. Around the globe, International Walk to School Month brings together more than 40 countries in recognition of the common interest in walking to school.

• In August 2005, federal legislation established a National Safe Routes to School Program that provided $612 million towards Safe Routes to School from 2005 to 2010. In July 2012, transportation legislation, MAP-21, was enacted that no longer provides dedicated funding for SRTS but instead places SRTS under a program called the Transportation Alternatives Program. However, many states still have dedicated SRTS funds.

• More than 14,500 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have been awarded federal funds for Safe Routes to School activities.

• More than half of Walk to School events are part of ongoing activities to promote walking and bicycling throughout the year.

• In 2006, world-wide interest led the International Walk to School Committee to establish International Walk to School Month – countries choose a day, week or use the entire month of October to promote walking to school.

• Participation in Walk to School Day 2012 reached a record high, with more than 4,200 events registered from all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Many more communities held events but did not register.

To register your Walk-to-School Day event or for more information or ideas, go to www.walkbiketoschool.org .

Excerpt reprinted with permission from National Safe Routes to School.

 

This article was submitted by Kathy Biagioli, a Lee’s Summit resident, middle school teacher and Chair of the Education and Encouragement Subcommittee of the Lee’s Summit’s Livable Streets Advisory Board, a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more “livable,” safe and accessible for all of our citizens.

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