From WILL - The Public Square -

Cynthia Hoyle on Walk to School Day

The health and safety of our children is of primary importance to our community. One of the best ways for kids to get exercise is to walk to school, yet less than 16% of children between the ages of 5 and 15 walk or bike to school.

The number of overweight children has tripled in the last 30 years. Experts feel that lack of activity is one of the primary reasons for the increase in childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. We know that being active is good for our children's health and experts say that children should get 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day and walking and biking to school is a great way to get exercise.

So what can we do to help our children to walk and bike to school safely?

A safe walking environment includes: neighborhood schools that are within walking and bicycling distance from homes; sidewalks or bicycle-paths that connect homes with schools; improved opportunities to cross streets (such as the presence of adult crossing guards, raised medians or traffic and pedestrian signals); slower vehicle speeds accomplished through roadway safety measures (traffic calming) and/or police enforcement where needed

There are two programs in our community working to improve walking and biking for students: 1. International Walk to School Day and 2. Safe Routes to School.

International Walk to School is this October 4th. We are inviting parents to walk with their kids to school. Six schools in our community have signed up to participate and fill out a "Walkability Checklist" given to kids. The checklist is then used to identify and address safety issues. The event also works to educate kids on safe walking behavior, safe walking routes and the physical and environmental benefits of walking or biking to school.

Sponsoring organizations of the Champaign Urbana Walk to School Day event are SAFEKIDS Coalition, Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District, Carle Foundation, the Cities of Urbana and Champaign, The Sierra Club Prairie Group, Family Video, Mix 94.5 and University of Illinois student athletes. .

If you and your children are interested in walking to school you can contact me, Cynthia Hoyle at 278-9059 or you can visit the CUMTD website where information on the event is posted at www.cumtd.com

We hope to see you walking!