International Walk to School Day 2008 - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

International Walk to School Day 2008

International Walk to School Day with

Safe Kids Columbus on October 8, 2008

  

Event promotes health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment

  

WHO:  Safe Kids Columbus, Live Healthy Columbus, program sponsor FedEx Express, The Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County's Double Churches Elementary, Rigdon Road Elementary, Clubview Elementary, community leaders, teachers, principals, parents

WHAT:  International Walk to School Day

WHEN: October 8, 2008

WHERE:  Double Churches Elementary

Location:  Sidewalk in front of Whitesville Crossing shopping center.

Time: Procession will leave at 8:00 AM

WHERE:  Rigdon Road Elementary

Location:  The parade will begin from two locations:

  • The corner of Rigdon Road & Clairmont Road.
  • The corner of Fern Street & Briarwood Avenue.

Time: Procession will leave at 8:00 AM

WHERE:  Clubview Elementary

Location:  The parade will begin from two locations:

  • The corner of Clubview Drive and Edgewood Road.
  • The corner of Sue Mack Drive and Edgewood Road.

Time: Procession will leave at 8:00 AM

WHY:

Columbus, GA - Thanks to Safe Kids Coalitions activating communities, child pedestrian fatalities decreased by 40 percent between 1995 and 2005*. With continued active effort, the rate can continue to decline!  Efforts like participating in Walk Your Child To School Day can help your child be safer in his or her community.  Double Churches Elementary, Rigdon Road Elementary, and Clubview Elementary in Columbus will be joining several million children and their families around the world to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 8, 2008.   The walk promotes health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment. Safe Kids encourages every community to walk on this day and together we can make a Safe Route To School! 

 

International Walk Your Child to School Day

The goals of KidsWalk-to-School are to

  • Encourage children to walk and bicycle to and from school.
  • Increase awareness of the importance of regular physical activity for children, improved pedestrian safety, and healthy and walkable community environments.
  • Mobilize communities to work together to create safe routes to school.

Anticipated benefits of the KidsWalk-to-School program include

  • Increased levels of daily physical activity for children.
  • Increased likelihood that children and adults will choose to walk and bike for other short distance trips.
  • Improved neighborhood safety.
  • Fewer cars traveling through the neighborhood.
  • Fewer cars congesting the pick-up and drop-off points at the school.
  • Friendlier neighborhoods as people get out and about interacting with one another.

Why Promote Walking and Bicycling?

Communities are using the walk or bike to school as the first step to change community culture and create environments that are more inviting for everyone, young and old. Here are some reasons to support walking and biking to school:

To enhance the health of kids
Increased physical activity can combat a host of health problems facing kids today.

To improve air quality and the environment
Replacing car trips to school with walking or bicycling can help reduce air pollution.

To create safer routes for walking and bicycling
Sidewalks, education programs and traffic calming measures are some of the ways to improve conditions.

Physical Activity

Free, convenient, enjoyable and does not require special equipment or training: Walking is a great way for adults and kids to be active. Lack of physical activity is a major cause of chronic illness and death for our country's adults. Being overweight can cause health problems like diabetes during childhood and research shows that physically inactive kids are more likely to grow up to be physically inactive adults - and are therefore at high risk for obesity and related illnesses.

There are plenty of great reasons to walk to school - less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air - but one of the best is that children and parents will be healthier. With obesity rates skyrocketing and only one-quarter of American's able to get the Surgeon General's recommended daily dose of exercise (just 30 minutes), it's an ideal time to encourage people to walk to school for their own health and well-being.

Kids need to move

Obesity rates among children have more than doubled in the past twenty years, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Youth. Even worse, rates of obesity are much higher among minority children than among white youth, suggesting a grave social inequity in the availability of safe, healthy recreational opportunities.

Add walking to the mix. Physical activity recommendations for children suggest that they need a variety of activities each day-some intense, some less-so, some informal, some structured. Walking or cycling to and from school is an ideal way to get some of that activity at no extra cost to the child or family.

Walking to school is a missed opportunity. Roughly 10% of children nationwide walk to school regularly. Even among those kids living within a mile of their school, only 25% are regular walkers.

Parents who walk or bike to school with their kids get to be sociable. Nearly nine out ten parents who walk their children to school see it as an ideal way to meet new people, according to a survey in the UK. Many said that the school gate was a better place to meet new people than pubs, clubs, evening classes or the supermarket.

Air Quality and the Environment

Walking or biking to school protects the environment and your health. When children decide to lace-up their sneakers to walk, or strap on their bike helmets to pedal to school instead of riding in a car, they reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobiles.

These air pollutants can be especially harmful to children. Children have respiratory systems that are not fully developed, they spend more time at higher activity levels, which can cause them to breath more deeply and take in more air pollution. They are also more likely to have asthma or other acute respiratory problems that can be aggravated by air pollution than other age groups. By walking or riding a bike to school, children lower the amount of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which helps reduce toxic air pollutants.

Vehicles emit a variety of air pollutants. For example, ground level ozone is created by a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compound gases in the presence of heat and sunlight. Visit www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/ozone/what.html to find more about ozone and www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/nox/hlth.html to learn about nitrogen oxides.

Particulate matter are particles of dust, soot, smoke, dirt, and liquid droplets that are also released into the air by cars, trucks and other vehicles. Go to www.epa.gov/air/urbanair/pm/index.html to learn more about particulate matter.

Hazardous or toxic air pollutants like the ones mentioned above are known or suspected to cause serious health effects such as cancer, birth defects, or respiratory, neurological, immune, or reproductive effects. To find out more, visit www.epa.gov/air/toxicair/newtoxics.html.

Safety

The promotion of bicycling and walking to school provides an opportunity to address safety. Every year, about 25,000 child pedestrians are injured by motor vehicles. Reducing the risk of injury includes teaching children pedestrian and bicycle skills. It also means reminding drivers to watch for others using the road. Hazardous conditions along routes to school need to be identified and fixed.

Some of the best ways to increase the safety of a child's walk or bike to school are to:

  • provide safe, well-maintained walkways separate from vehicles;
  • teach children to cross streets at marked crossings, and provide ample, well-designed, accessible, and when necessary monitored crosswalks;
  • slow traffic in neighborhoods and near schools.

The "Four E's"

Consider the range of tools available to address safety.

Education.

Programs used to teach children safe walking behaviors, such as proper crossing at crosswalks, and adults safe driving behaviors.

Encouragement.

Any efforts to encourage safe, healthy, regular walking, such as special events, announcements, public relations, and incentive programs.

Enforcement.

Efforts by law enforcement to aggressively enforce posted speeds and traffic laws to create safer driving habits; often used in neighborhoods and near schools.

Engineering.

The design and building of facilities - roadways, sidewalks, lighting, signs - to enhance the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Includes, for example, traffic calming methods.

FACTS ABOUT INJURIES TO CHILD PEDESTRIANS

Between 1995 and 2005, the number of child pedestrian fatalities decreased by 40 percent.  In large part, this decline can be attributed to decreased traffic exposure, as children are walking less often.

  

However, pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14.

  • Other than in the street, driveways, parking lots and on sidewalks are where young children

ages 0-2 years suffer the highest number of injuries as pedestrians. 4 out of 5 driveway-related incidents occur to children ages 4 and under.

Children are vulnerable to pedestrian death because they are exposed to traffic threats that exceed their cognitive, developmental, behavioral, physical and sensory abilities.

  • Children are impulsive and have difficulty judging speed, spatial relations, and distance.  Auditory and visual acuity, depth perception and proper scanning ability develop gradually and do not fully mature until at least age 10.

Each year, approximately 626 fatalities and 38,500 nonfatal injuries occur to child pedestrians.

When and Where

  • 83 percent of child pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection locations.
  • 1 in 4 child pedestrian deaths occur between 6 - 9p.m.
  • On average, 12 children die each year in school bus-related crashes.

Who

  • Almost two-thirds of childhood pedestrian deaths occur to males.
  • Black children have a pedestrian injury death rate almost twice that of white children.
  • Parents of children who suffer from a pedestrian-related injury are three times less likely to practice other preventive behaviors and are more likely to be single parents, young mothers or both.

  

Proven Interventions

  • Policies that increase the number of people walking and bicycling appears to be an effective method for improving the safety of people walking and bicycling.

 

Laws and Regulations

  • In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

(SAFETEA-LU) was signed into law. The SAFETEA-LU includes the establishment of Safe Routes

to School, a program with the goal of making it safer for children to walk or bike to school. The

Safe Routes to School program aims to:

1. Fix or improve sidewalks

2. Execute traffic calming and speed reduction measures

3. Improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings

4. Conduct public education campaigns to encourage walking and

biking to school.xix

  • State and local laws created to protect child pedestrians include:
  • Lower speed limits in residential areas
  • Protection of pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Providing pedestrian walkways
  • Prohibition of vehicles from passing school buses while loading and unloading passengers
  • Providing crossing guards and requiring pedestrians to not cross streets at locations other

than designated crosswalks.

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