If you live near a school, then you know what 8 am and afternoon pick up times mean for the environment. With all of those parents driving their individual children to and from school, the carbon emissions associated with getting elementary, middle, and high school students to school can be pretty detrimental.
Not only is this bad for the environment at large, but if often creates denser air pollution around the school – exposing school aged children to greater health risks.
So it’s a good thing that the municipality of Rishon Lezion, Israel’s fourth largest city, decided to do something about it. After a pilot run in 2007 that was sanctioned by the National Parents’ Association, the municipality has launched a project calling on all 6000 school children in the city to walk to school on Fridays in an attempt to boost environmentalism, road safety, and physical education.
Why Friday? Because most parents do not work on Fridays and would be able to walk their children to school if necessary, thus promoting safety encouraging greener forms of transportation in adults as well. (Plus it gives parents time to tell their children how when they were young, they walked 3 miles in the snow to get to school. Well, maybe not snow… but you get the picture.)
Ilanit Harush, the head of Rishon Lezion’s Adini School’s Parents’ Association said that “this is an important project and one that should be pursued not only on a local level but on a national one as well.” We would love to see that happen, and not just on Fridays.
Rishon Lezion’s initiative is part of a larger, global initiative called iwalk – International Walk to School. The initiative spans over 40 countries, ranging from Chile to Namibia to Croatia to the Philippines. To date, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country participating in the project.