More than 5,100 schools celebrate the benefits of walking to school and rally for change
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Today, tens of thousands of people across the country are joining together in celebration of National Walk to School Day.
Students, parents, school and community members, mayors, and other local and state officials nationwide will walk to school to promote active and safe transportation to schools and other community destinations. Over 5,100 schools in all 50 states and Washington D.C., have registered Walk to School Day events on walkbiketoschool.org, and the total number of events is expected to grow as celebrations continue throughout October, which is Walk to School Month.
Atlantic Highlands Elementary School principal, Janet Walling said, “The school annually does try to encourage students to walk and ride their bikes to school as much as possible and quite often we will designate certain Wednesday's as ‘Walking Wednesday's’ to encourage students and family participation. And with today being National Walk to School Day what better way than to create a ‘walking train’, complete with conductors and all, from the harbor all the way to the school.”
The annual event highlights the benefits of walking and the priority for safety, offering communities and elected officials a chance to highlight the importance of safe options for walking or biking for the trip to school and beyond.
“Walk to School Day is a chance for community leaders, families and school officials to come together and show support for safe walking and bicycling in their communities. Some communities are using their events to start dialogues about improving safety for all ages of pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the coordinating agency for Walk to School Day. “We’re so inspired by the continuous growth of this event and the support from communities and local leaders.”
Walk to School Day began in 1997 and that year, two mayors, Chicago Mayor Daley and Los Angeles Mayor Riordan, led the first events. Two decades later, over 60,000 events have been held across the country, and mayors continue to be an important part of the celebration. More than 1,600 mayors and local officials across the country have been invited to participate in this year’s event, and many will express their commitment to physical activity and creating places where children and youth can safely walk and bike.
"The Atlantic Highlands Police Department was a phenomenal support by helping us out to do the crossings and making sure that everybody was safe as we paraded through town. And I would say almost the entire staff turned out to help with the students as well; whether walking with them or being crossing guards. It's really neat, you know. It's one of those things that really reminds you of how amazing this community is. The place to really work together," said Walling.