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International Walk to School Day took place Wednesday, October 6. More than 1,000 schools in the United States participated.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is implementing safe walking projects in eight counties, part of a two year program with federal stimulus funds to increase Safe Routes to Schools programs. Two schools will participate from each of these counties: Clark, Island, Kittitas, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Tacoma and Thurston. James Kissee is the Physical Activity Specialist who provides technical assistance and resources and helps implement Safe Routes to School programs through policy and environmental changes.
After two years each school will be encouraged to implement a walking school bus program. Schools will have volunteers, parents or teachers walk kids to school from their neighborhood through a designated safe route. Each school is required to have a safe walking map and each county will form a walking school bus committee, review walking maps, and revise them if necessary to make sure routes are safe.
The walking school bus program will increase students’ physical activity, and there is the added benefit of helping districts shift funding from transporting students to other educational needs.
The National Center for Safe Routes to Schools provides a guide, toolkit and information on funding sources. Other resources for agency leaders include a biennial funding program through the Washington State Department of Transportation with the next deadline in 2012.
Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Transportation and the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools.
Featured: Fall 2010