Nearly 200 schools in South Carolina are participating in International Walk to School Day on Wednesday.
“We celebrate with not only schools within the U.S. but internationally as well, to go out as far as promote walking and pedestrian safety,” SC Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Coordinator Rodney Oldham said. “Plus I know from the U.S. standpoint, it’s one of the ways we can tackle and address the obesity epidemic.”
Oldham said, besides encouraging more physical activity in kids, the event also is used to remind drivers to be careful around school zones.
“You want to make sure you wear clothing that is reflective where a driver can see you, so that they know that you are there,” Oldham said. “And you walk in the correct direction so that it won’t come up as a blind spot to someone who’s driving if you’re walking in their lane as opposed to walking on the opposite side.”
Federal, state and local transportation officials team up for the annual campaign to encourage kids to walk, bike or roll to school, for kids who have disabilities and may be in a wheelchair.
“Being able to have access to walking to school if you live within that mile-and-one-half radius there from the school,” Oldham said. “Also looking at ways, from the Safe Routes program, we look at ways we can make walking and biking to school fun for the students, as well as educational.”
He said the event is also meant to encourage safety for those students who bike to school.
Oldham said there are several ways to participate: parents can walk or bike with their kids to school, they can meet at a location and park and walk from there. Schools in rural areas which are heavily served by buses may have walking events during the school day.
“We look at the different ways as far as getting creative to promote the physical activity lessons as well as the safety education with this event and working with the schools,” Oldham said.
More than 172 South Carolina schools have registered their events with SCDOT, but Oldham said he expects more schools to hold informal events on their own. Click here for more information. The state hosts its own Walk to School day in the spring.
Nationwide, more than 4,000 events are registered for International Walk to School Day 2018. Pedestrians from the U.S. will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world that also celebrate walking to school and bring attention to pedestrian safety.