Walking is one of the best things kids can do for their health, emotional well-being, and academic success. Yet between 1969 and 2009, the number of kids walking to school dropped from 48 percent to just 13 percent. During the same time period, childhood obesity tripled and traffic congestion grew around schools, negatively affecting air quality and snarling nearly everyone’s morning commute.
The good news is that over the past ten years, there has been a surge in demand for safe, walkable schools and neighborhoods, something we, along with our friends at Together Counts™, have been actively working to change. Last September, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a call to action for Americans to work together to make our communities more walkable for people of all ages and abilities. Ensuring that kids and families have safe routes to walk or bicycle to and from school is critical to making our communities more walkable for everyone.
Walking is one of the simplest, most effective, and most affordable strategies for kids AND adults to build physical activity into their lives. One mile of walking translates to 2/3 of the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. And the benefits of walking extend beyond health. Studies show that active kids do better. Research has shown that there are links between physical activity and academic achievement.
Teachers and parents can speak to the advantages of making sure students have opportunities to walk and be physically active by participating in the Fire Up Your Feet Activity Challenge, taking place in select states and regions this spring. Schools can earn cash awards to support walking, bicycling, and physical activity programs.
Keep up with Fire Up Your Feet for information and support for joining the movement for healthy, active schools. Any school can use Fire Up Your Feet to track activity during the month of October, and in participating Activity Challenge regions, win awards to support walking, bicycling, and physical activity programs at your school.
Save the date for the Fall Activity Challenge taking place October 1-31, 2016 in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Metro Atlanta, Southern Nevada, Oregon, SW Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC!
For more information about Fire Up Your Feet, visit www.fireupyourfeet.org.
Fire Up Your Feet is a core program of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
For more bright ideas on how to stay healthy and active check out these other articles from Together Counts!