JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians might notice more neighborhood foot traffic this week as students from more than 20 Missouri schools participate in International Walk to School Day on Oct. 9.
October is Walk to School Month and the Missouri Department of Transportation encourages parents and communities to help children establish ongoing walking and cycling programs.
"The physical fitness benefits are obvious. What's interesting is, if more children walked or bicycled to school, fewer cars would be nearby at pick-up and drop-off locations, making it safer for walkers and bicyclists," said Safe Routes to School Coordinator Jeff Cremer. "Fewer vehicles also result in fewer air pollutants. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of poor air quality."
One of the most popular program activities is called the walking school bus. Groups of children walk designated routes to school under adult supervision, picking up kids along the way similar to a bus. For some neighborhoods it's a casual group walk, while others set up a formal plan with adults scheduled to walk on certain days. Families who live farther from school can drive part of the way and join the walk along the designated route.
MoDOT oversees the Safe Routes to School program, which provides children in grades K-8 with education, training and infrastructure for bicycling and walking to school safely. The program is designed to provide public awareness and outreach to encourage walking and bicycling to school, instead of riding in cars and buses.
Is the event at your school on the national list? Find out by visiting http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/. There you can learn more about how your community benefits when students walk and bike to school.
The 23 schools that registered their events as of 9 a.m., October 7, 2013 include:
Daniel Young Elementary
Bolivar Intermediate School
Bolivar Middle School
Bolivar Primary School
Gentry Middle School
Eldon South Elementary
Three Trails Elementary
Liberty Oaks Elementary
Lake St. Louis
Green Tree Elementary
South Park Elementary
New Haven Elementary
Bayless Middle School
Bayless High School
Christ the King School
Other schools might be participating, but have not registered with the event website.