Each October, schools, families, and communities in the U.S. and around the world observe Walk to School Day (and also Walk to School Month). With special events, banners, snacks, and press conferences, supporters of Walk to School Day aim to spread the message that walking to school benefits kids and their communities too.
Plan an Informal Walk to School Day Event
Your Walk to School Day plan can be as simple as calling up a neighbor and saying "Let's all walk to school together." (Bicycles, roller skates, and scooters work too.) Or, get your child's whole school involved:
- Discuss your plans with the principal and get her approval.
- Register your event at the Walk to School Day site so that you'll be counted among the participants (local media might even find you this way and cover your event!).
- Get the word out: Post flyers, place an item in the school newsletter, send out an email to school families. Ask the principal to make a reminder announcement the day before.
- Make posters or banners to welcome participants to school on Walk to School Day. Consider offering healthy snacks, drinks, stickers, or certificates of participation; these are all nice, but not must-haves.
- Enjoy your walk!
Plan a Higher-Profile Walk to School Day Event
Want to spread the word farther and wider? Go bigger with your event. Consider:
- Welcoming walkers with a healthy breakfast (ask local businesses for donations).
- Inviting a guest speaker: Your city's mayor? Your local sports team's mascot? A popular high school coach or a TV news anchor?
- Writing and distributing a press release (see Walk to School Day resources for templates and suggestions).
- Encouraging teachers to incorporate the event into their lesson plans. Kids could create posters or maps, calculate and analyze statistics, practice writing letters to the editor, and so on.
Why Walk to School Day?
Walking to school promotes health, fitness, and cleaner air. It also helps make communities safer for pedestrians. Many Walk to School Day events lead to engineering changes, such as new signs, sidewalks, paths, or crosswalks, or new school policies promoting walking. If you think your streets and sidewalks could use improvement, complete a walkability checklist and share the results with civic leaders.
If You Can't Walk to School
Although you'd be surprised at how far kids can walk if you put them to the test, there are some who simply live too far away from school to participate. In that case, plan a walk around the school event instead. Do it at recess, lunchtime, or after school, so kids and families still can reap the benefits of getting some activity, being outside, and being together. Or, pick a meet-up spot a short distance from school and have kids walk or bike together from there.
What if your city or neighborhood is simply unsafe for walking, due to crime or a lack of sidewalks, crosswalks, or crossing guards? Walk to School Day is the perfect occasion to draw attention to your plight via a press conference or other media event. Visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School for more help, plus the opportunity to apply for grants. Your community may also benefit from a walking school bus (like a carpool, on foot!).