Started in Great Britain, we ask all kids in the Middle East walk to school on October 6!
If you usually drive your kids to school, get out your walking shoes: October 6, is International Walk to School Day. This “green” event began in Great Britain in 1994, and has spread to 40 countries including Israel and Turkey. Too many children are driven or bused from door to door, even though they live near school.
At the end of the school day near my kids’ elementary school, the buses are lined up on the narrow street. Cars vie to get as close to the entrance as they can, so their children won’t have to walk more than a few steps. The school asked the municipality to subsidize a traffic guard to help kids cross from the school to the parking lot, but that misses the point. Near-accidents happen on a daily basis, and the huge traffic means that the kids who walk to school are less safe than they would be if everyone walked.
Walking or biking to school reduces carbon emissions, improves children’s health, and reduces crime, traffic congestion and car accidents (like this tragic one in the UAE). International Walk to School Day raises awareness about environmental and safety issues, and encourages discussion about safety issues.
Parents worry about letting their kids walk to school on their own. But there is safety in numbers. Encouraging kids to walk and play outside helps neighborhoods become child-friendly, and ultimately safer.
If you missed Walk to School Day, don’t worry—the celebrations are continuing all month. And the ecological, social and health benefits will remain with children for a lifetime. You could organize a walking bus, like the one in Israel.
Image via rkramer