Image: Amy Sabin, the ExaminerIt’s that time of year again–Labor Day is well behind us, a hint of fall weather is in the air, and children in the Delaware Valley are returning to school.  If you like the idea of fitting exercise into daily life by walking to school but are concerned about your students’ safety, look no further than the Safe Routes to School program.  Safe Routes to School is a national partnership that offers resources and training to parents and teachers wishing to educate kids about pedestrian and bicycle safety.  Walking (or biking) to school is a great way to help your children meet the federal guidelines for daily physical activity.  This is an especially important goal in Philadelphia, where childhood obesity is a major concern.  In 2009-2010, over 1 in 5 of the city’s children were obese.  Although the obesity rate for the city’s schoolchildren has decreased since 2006, the current rate is still higher than the national average.  In addition to improving health, walking to school also improves air quality by decreasing the number of cars on the road.

October is walk and bike to school month, so now’s the perfect time to start organizing an event such as a walking school bus (see picture below) or an information/training session for kids and parents.  Also taking place next month is Walk or Roll to School Day, a statewide event in Pennsylvania that occurs on October 3, 2012.  Contact the Pennsylvania Safe Routes to School Resource Center to get a Walk or Roll to School Day kit mailed to you.  If you’re looking for resources for walking to school in New Jersey, look no further than NJ Safe Routes to School.  In Philadelphia, Safe Routes Philly offers resources and lesson materials to encourage safe active transportation to elementary school teachers in the city.  They can even help you get a “walking club” started at your school.  What are you waiting for?  It’s a great day to start walking to school!

Walking schoolbus
A “walking school bus” in Middletown, CT. Yellow balloons optional.

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