“In my day, we walked to school! In the rain, in the snow, and it was uphill both ways!” said your parents, grandparents, or maybe even you, dear reader. This story is usually told to a youth perceived to be ungrateful about the ease of their modern day existence.
Well, MTD and many other community groups believe there’s something to this walking to school bit. So on Wednesday, October 7 several Champaign and Urbana schools will participate in International Walk and Roll to School Day. And they’ll be in good company. Thousands of students, parents, and communities representing more than 4,300 schools across the United States have pledged to walk, roll, and bicycle to school as well. Events are held annually in 40 different countries.
Ten area elementary schools, four in Champaign and six in Urbana, signed on to participate. Each school is taking their own twist on the morning event and some will even welcome local officials and Fighting Illini athletes.
Locally, school events are organized by the Champaign-Urbana Safe Routes to School Project (C-U SRTS) in cooperation with MTD, C-U Public Health District, City of Urbana, City of Champaign, University of Illinois, Champaign County Regional Planning Commission, and the Urbana and Champaign School Districts.
Why Elementary Schools?
Safe transportation to and from school is elementary. This young population is the perfect inspiration for quality roads and sidewalks. They are also at a great age to start developing healthy transportation habits early.
Creating safe routes to school for pedestrians, cyclists, students, and families of all physical abilities, is critical to making active transportation possible. Walk and Roll to School Day shines a spotlight on the importance of safe routes, which also goes hand in hand with increasing physical activity among children, decreasing traffic congestion, and improved environmental sustainability.
This year’s participating schools are:
- Bottenfield Elementary
- Carrie Busey Elementary
- Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary
- Dr. Williams Elementary
- Leal Elementary
- Robeson Elementary
- South Side Elementary
- Thomas Paine Elementary
- Wiley Elementary
- Yankee Ridge Elementary
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Walking to school, to the bus stop, or to a friend’s house, is a great start to reaching this recommended goal.
In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). It takes time and attention from all roadway users to make it possible for everyone to walk safely, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
All participating schools are provided Walkability Checklists. These are completed by school staff and families to report specific areas needing attention.
There are many more benefits to our community when active transportation to school is supported. Share your favorite benefit in the comments. And we’ll see you next Wednesday for Walk and Roll to School Day!