Schools across the country are finding clever ways to do their part in promoting good health and reducing pollution. A recent article in USA Today describes how some schools are encouraging children to walk or ride bikes to school rather than getting a ride from parents.
For some students, however, walking is not an option since they live too far from their schools. These children are encouraged to form car pools and walk for at least part of the way. Schools are beginning to realize that students can receive great health benefits from walking or biking as well as reduce traffic around schools and auto emissions.
One 8-year-old student enjoys the incentives her Boulder, Colorado school offers. Megan says, “You get treats too ? usually some kind of food.” And she adds, “Since I like animals, I want to save the environment.” The prizes being offered go beyond treats too. Some schools offer digital cameras, bike bells, and bottles of water. The national Safe Routes to School program (administered by the Federal Highway Administration) has funded 40 states to promote walking and biking to school.
Though many parents were apprehensive about the safety of their children walking to school, it was not long until they began recognizing all of the benefits. Katy Jones, manager of the Safe Routes to School program in North Carolina, says children have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than getting hit by a car.
Walking provides exercise and the opportunity to socialize before school. Walking can also reduce a child’s risk of developing obesity or diabetes later in life. It is also believed that exercise in the morning can make a child more responsive in class.
What do you think of school’s offering incentives to students who walk or ride bikes to school?
Would you allow your child to walk or ride a bike to school where you live?