Dr. Vivek Murthy, our new Surgeon General, announced his new Call to Action last week, and the timing couldn’t have been better! As schools across the country return to session, he is promoting “walking and walkable communities.” As members of the community, we want to encourage students and their families to find the safest and most beneficial way to travel to and from school. With International Walk to School Day on the horizon, on October 7th, we have a great opportunity to not only encourage families to walk, but to do so safely.
Schools across the country will be participating in this event, and schools in and around Richmond are no exception. Educators are planning to include pedestrian safety in their curriculum, and events encouraging these habits are taking shape. Coincidentally, the Surgeon General’s message aligns with the goals of Safe Routes to School, the organization that supports the implementation of Walk to School Day. Dr. Murthy’s message isn’t limited to just school age children. He encourages the entire population to “Step it Up!”
In the late 1960’s approximately 50% of U.S. children walked or biked to school. Fewer than 15% of school children do so today. The Safe Routes to School initiative was implemented to reverse the decline in non-motorized transportation. As we see an increase in childhood obesity and associated health problems, we also see a decline in the quality of our local environments due to pollution. Fewer students live in close proximity to their schools, and if they do live close enough, the infrastructure for walking or biking is oftentimes unsafe.
As we begin to see the introduction of bike lanes and improved sidewalks in our region. We need to encourage our local government representatives to build on that momentum. Citizens can participate in community planning and infrastructure improvement discussions, and make walking a part of your daily routine.
The Greater Richmond Fit4Kids Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Tara FitzPatrick, will be overseeing a number of events in Richmond Public Schools. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about our upcoming Walk to School Day events.
The official Surgeon General’s warning can be found here: