Did you know that October is International Walk to School Month? In October 2011, millions of kids and adults in 40 countries took part in activities to celebrate the occasion. This month, children, parents, and teachers in some Independence schools are joining people all over the world in celebrating International Walk to School Month. Walking to school is a great way for kids to get some of the physical activity that they need to stay healthy. Experts recommend that children get at least one hour of physical activity every day, but many kids do not reach this level of activity. While walking to school could help kids become more active, some parents are reluctant to allow children to walk to school due to concerns about safety. It is important for kids and parents to know how to stay safe while walking. Some important things to remember are:
· Children are more vulnerable than adults. They are not as easily seen by drivers, and they cannot judge the speed or distance of cars.
· Children 10 and under should not be allowed to walk to school by themselves; they should always be accompanied by a responsible adult.
· Even young children should be taught basic pedestrian skills, such as “look left, look right, look left again for traffic” to lay a foundation of good safety skills that will keep them safe when they are old enough to walk alone.
It’s important for families to know how to stay safe while walking in our neighborhoods, but keeping kids—and all pedestrians—safe is also the responsibility of the entire community. Through the Building a Healthier Independence initiative, Independence Health Department is working to improve pedestrian safety, especially for our kids. The City’s Public Works Department has been a great partner in this project, building over 12 miles of new sidewalks and trails, and repainting more than 290 crosswalks near schools. They also keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from stop signs so that drivers are able to see them more easily.
With Halloween right around the corner, it is important that both parents and children know how to stay safe while having fun. On Monday, October 29, from 6-8 pm, the Independence Health Department will host a training session on pedestrian safety and Walk to School events. Parents, teachers, and any community members with an interest in promoting the wellbeing of children are invited to take part in this important session.
To register for the upcoming Pedestrian Safety training session, go to http://indephealth.wufoo.com/forms/pedestrian-safetywalk-to-school-day-training/. If you have questions about the training, or for more information, call the Health Department at 325-7185.
For more information on physical activity guidelines for children, go to http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html. To read more about how to keep kids safe, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Pedestrians.