Families across Washington are discovering the benefits of walking to school. At Feet First, we believe that walking to school helps kids release stress and prepare for a day of learning.
Walking has health benefits for children and parents alike, and helps neighbors connect with one another. Walking is free transportation, replacing the wear and tear on a vehicle with muscle-building and fitness for growing bodies. Walking, even a short way, with young children gives parents a chance to model safely walking so parents will know as their children become more independent that they have learned the skills they need to walk by themselves.
However, maybe walking doesn’t always feel like the safe and convenient option that it once did. Even families who recognize the benefits can easily talk themselves out of trying to incorporate walking to school. They reason that walking to school is for other people — families that live closer, have a stay-at-home parent, live in neighborhoods with fewer safety concerns, or (somehow, magically) have extra time on their hands.
If you value walking to school and you are ready to take a small step to incorporate it into your family’s life, start slowly. We bet you’ll catch the enthusiasm from your children and neighbors as the school year goes on.
Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Walk one day a week. Walking even once a week helps your child build healthy habits for a lifetime. Perhaps you can schedule your work to allow one flexible morning or afternoon each week.
- Walk to the school bus. Even a short walk to the bus is a great way to start the day. Test how long it takes to walk to the bus stop with your child so you can set your departure time.
- Park and walk. If you drive, parking away from the school lets you take a short walk while avoiding the hassle of the school drop-off area. Find a legal parking space a block or more away from the school and walk with your child from there.
If you want to raise the bar, here are two best practice suggestions that will get you walking and serve as the perfect ‘vehicle’ to bring others along with you:
- Start a Walking School Bus. A Walking School Bus is a group of children and adults who walk to school together. Adults can take turns providing supervision to help each another out. Online resources abound to help you get started.
- Celebrate International Walk to School Month. October is International Walk to School Month, or IWALK. You can host a walk-to-school day event in celebration of IWALK to bring lots of families together. It is a wonderful way to build connections so that families and schools can work together to make walking safer and more convenient. Plus, you can have fun and win prizes for your school if you do this in conjunction with the Feet First IWALK Challenge.
Regardless of the option you choose, give walking to school a try this fall–you, your child and your school will be better for it!