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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Walking to School is Good for All"

Below is an article from The Detroit Free Press, 10/27/2010, Page D01

"Walking to School is Good for All"

Dear Leanna: My 12-year old niece proudly e-mailed me her photos of Walk to School Day. I never heard of it. We live a mile from our own school and a bus picks up our boys, ages 9 and 10.

We think they’re old enough to walk, but riding is ingrained in this community’s culture. Where can I get info on this event?

Answer: October is International Walk to School Month, with nearly 4,000 schools in the United States participating. The goals:

1. To promote physical activity by teaching kids the benefits of walking and the skills to walk safely

2. To identify safe routes to school

3. To raise awareness of how walkable a community is and where it can be improved

4. To save energy, reduce crime and take back neighborhoods

5. To reduce traffic congestion, pollution and speed near schools

6. To encourage kids and parents to share healthy activity

The event is taking hold thanks to a confluence of factors — childhood obesity has increased; tight school schedules and budgets have cut down on recess and physical education, and there’s a growing feeling that walking to school is a nifty way to get the digital generation to put down the Xbox and breathe some fresh air.

Psychologist John Grohol says promoting independence is another reason to encourage kids to walk to school:  “Even though families live in perfectly safe neighborhoods, parents feel the need to chauffeur their children,” he notes. “Children learn by doing. If we take informal learning opportunities away from our children, we hurt their ability to learn the way they were intrinsically built to learn — through natural experiences, interactive experiences with their peers and unscripted, unstructured playtime.”

Some parents worry that walking to school may compromise safety. But Grohol believes those fears must be put in perspective. “Kids 15 years or younger are five to seven times more likely to die in your car than they are to be abducted by a stranger.

And both are highly unlikely occurrences to begin with.”

Lenore Skenazy, author of “Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry” (Jossey-Bass, $14.95), thinks today’s children should benefit from the same independence the boomer generation had — to ride bikes to school, walk to the store, take buses and subways by themselves.
Skenazy says: “We believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school-age children go outside, they need a security detail.”


This article by Leanna Landsmann expresses many of the reasons people in Rogers City encourage their children to walk or bike to school and participate in "Walk to School Day"--besides just plain fun!
Thanks to the Detroit Free Press for the use of this article.

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