Put Those Car Keys Away - October is International Walk to School Month; Celebrate With Thousands of Students from Local Schools by Walking to School in October.

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Walking to school is the first step in creating a healthy future for our region. BikeWalkKC is helping schools across the region celebrate walking to school.

“Walking to school is not only the best way to start your day but a great way to spend time with your family before school ” states Brent Hugh the Director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, and parent of three young kids.

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October is International Walk to School Month and October 5, 2011 is International Walk to School Day. Join BikeWalkKC and thousands of local children as they celebrate walking to school as a healthy way to start their day. Students will form walking school buses and bike trains and will be joined by local celebrities, mascots, politicians and parents to celebrate the joys of walking to school and living healthy active lifestyles.

Obesity rates among children have more than doubled in the past 20 years. According to the Surgeon General "Today's children may become the first generation in history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents." The Kansas City region has been at the forefront of public health crises like childhood obesity and childhood diabetes and we are far below the national average when it comes to simple activities like walking and cycling.

Programs like International Walk to School Day, Safe Routes to School and BikeWalkKC's biking and walking initiatives are the first step toward fixing these problems. In addition, walking and biking to school can save you time and money. The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation developed a Walking and Biking Saving calculator which measures money saved by walking or biking to school. For example, if you walk to school 100 days per year then you will walk approximately 50 miles, save 4.9 gallons of fuel and save $561.00.

A simple walk to school is one way to start making changes for our kids’ and our health. One Kansas City, Kansas mother lost over 50 pounds while walking her two young daughters to school. According to research from the University of Buffalo, kids that walk or bike to school are less stressed in the classroom. Professor James Roemmich, said: 'The cardiovascular disease process begins in childhood, so if we can find some way of stopping or slowing that process, that would provide an important health benefit.'

Walking to school is free, enjoyable and requires no special skills. When you walk to school as a group, you teach your children to become safer pedestrians by coaching them on how to navigate streets and traffic.

Now in its 14th year, this event is a part of an international effort in more than 40 countries to celebrate the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school and to encourage more families to consider getting out of the car and onto their feet on the way to school in October.
“Safe Routes to School is a terrific program to encourage walking and biking to school,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Not only does it put the right infrastructure, like sidewalks, in place to help families be safe as they walk and bicycle to school, it also helps them stay active.”

Safe Routes to School programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. Safe Routes to School activities range from building sidewalks, to getting drivers to slow down in school zones, to encouraging students to take active trips to school with school-wide competitions. On average, at least 50 percent of Walk to School Day events are part of an ongoing SRTS program each year.

Research and common sense tells us that physically inactive kids are more likely to grow up to be physically inactive adults — and are therefore at higher risk for obesity and related illnesses. Leading by example, and starting the day with a simple “Kids, lets walk to school today” is the first step to a great day.

BikeWalkKC is leading the regional charge for Safe Routes to School in Kansas City and Missouri. For more information on how your child can bike and walk to school or to participate in our ongoing programs please contact BikeWalkKC. http://www.bikewalkkc.org.

BikeWalkKC is the unified voice for active living, promoting a healthy, safe and accessible outdoor experience for all in a vibrant, engaged community.

BikeWalkKC is a member-supported organization that works to make Greater Kansas City a safer and more accessible place to walk, bicycle, live, work, and play. Our advocacy programs work with local cities to improve policies and build sidewalks, trails, crosswalks, bike lanes, and more. Our education programs give people the knowledge and skills to walk and to bicycle safely and confidently for transportation, recreation, and fitness. Learn more at http://www.bikewalkkc.org.

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Sarah Shipley
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