In a continued effort to boost the prevalence of walking and build healthier, more walkable communities, Kaiser Permanente physicians and employees came out in full force again this year to mark International Walk to School Day.
The annual event brings together students and their families, school staff and teachers and community leaders to celebrate the joy of walking – and rolling for those who use wheelchairs, bicycles and strollers. The event also helps raise awareness about the importance of building safe places for physical activity.
Nationwide walk-to-school celebrations
In school communities across the country, students and their families were cheered on by wellness champions from all walks of life spreading messages about healthy living:
- In Johns Creek, Ga., Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program employees came dressed as Doc Broc and Nurse Blueberry, characters from the popular stage plays, to encourage youth to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise.
- At Roger Heights Elementary School in Prince George’s County Md., leaders from the surrounding Port Towns community joined Kaiser Permanente, Safe Routes to School, Olympian athlete and health advocate Dominique Dawes and nearly 300 school children from ages four to twelve for a “walking school bus” followed by a series of interactive games and a healthy breakfast.
- In perhaps one of the largest coordinated efforts of the day, 33 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District participated in walk-to-school-day activities under the sponsorship of Kaiser Permanente, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Safe Routes to School. Students, parents and community leaders took walking school bus routes from designated locations and met other walkers at school-based celebrations designed to be fun and inspire healthy living.
Additional Kaiser Permanente sponsored or supported walk-to-school-day activities took place at schools throughout Northern California, Colorado and the Portland metropolitan area. Many schools in those regions celebrated “Walk & Roll to School Day” as a way to encourage both walking and bicycling in their school communities.
While this year’s Walk to School Day took place on Oct. 9, many communities are celebrating walk-to-school-day activities throughout the month.
Since 1997, communities and schools have been using International Walk to School Day as an opportunity to change community culture and create options for getting around that foster greater physical activity and are more inviting for people of all ages. International Walk to School Day – held each October – exposes children and their families to the benefits of walking and biking to school and encourages them to engage in these activities year-round.
Walking and school health go hand-in-hand
This year’s Walk to School Day came amidst a month of walking-related activities and events geared to support people of all ages in their efforts to live healthy and be more physically active.
The month kicked off with the Every Body Walk! 2013 Walking Summit, Oct. 1 – 3, that brought hundreds of walking enthusiasts together in Washington, DC to build momentum for a walking movement aimed at getting Americans up and moving as part of their everyday lives.
Also on Oct. 1, the Fire Up Your Feet fall challenge competition officially launched. Fire Up Your Feet is a core program of Safe Routes to School National Partnership available to any elementary and middle school (grades k-8) nationally. Made possible in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, this program offers free resources, an online activity tracker, a school fundraising organizer, and more, all aimed at increasing physical activity before, during and after school for students, parents, school staff and teachers. The National PTA serves as the family engagement partner for this program.
And later in October, Kaiser Permanente will be releasing The Walking Revolution, a 30-minute documentary that details the health benefits of walking, what makes communities walkable and how walking and walkability supports a healthier environment, strong local economies and a vibrant community life. The documentary will be free to watch and available to stream online at Every Body Walk!