International Walk to School Day
By the time you’re reading this, the International Walk to School Day may be over, but the purpose is on-going. Mayor Dewey Bartlett officially proclaimed this October to be “Walk to School Month,” and, let’s face it, kids need to know walking and biking safety rules. But, as with most things with kids, it isn’t enough to say it once. Tell them the rules, practice the rules with them and then tell them again. Yes, I’m one of those moms where my kids roll their eyes and say, “I KNOW.”
To call attention to safety, schools around the country are holding Walk to School Day events today, including Carnegie Elementary School in Tulsa. The morning event was sponsored by Safe Kids Tulsa Area, led by The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis.
According to Safe Kids Tulsa Area, 44 children every day are hit by a car in the United States, and the World Health Organization reports that road traffic injuries are the second-leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 worldwide. So don’t be in denial. Why not take time to turn these statistics around (and enjoy the beautiful October weather) by walking or biking with your children to school? You can talk to them about rules of the road first, and then practice the rules by talking a walk or a ride. As your children get older and become drivers themselves, these rules will also help them be more aware of pedestrians.
I used to run along beside my kids’ wobbly bikes, terrified that they wouldn’t be able to stop at an intersection or that they might veer out in front of a car before we got to the safety of the park where they could ride on a trail. And I never assumed that my kids would have the self-control to not dart out in front of a car in a parking lot. We’ve all experienced those heart-stopping moments where a child is jerked back from the precipice of imminent motor vehicle danger.
While we can’t wrap our kids in bubble wrap or keep them in their rooms until they reach age 25 (can we?), we can provide reasonable safety instructions and provide on-going reminders. And, please, if your child rides a bike, one of the most important accessories is a good-fitting helmet.
If you live too far from school to walk or bike, or if you do not have safe routes, the Tulsa Health Department suggests driving to a location where you can park, and then walk or bike from there. Not only are walking and biking fun and free entertainment, they are great ways for you and the kids to be active. Children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, so walking to school may be a way to get part of that. And, a brisk morning walk or ride helps clear the brain and helps kids focus on academics.
Walk/Bike to School also has downloadable resources in English and in Spanish on a variety of topics such as Helping Children Learn Pedestrian Safety Skills: Overview for Parents and Caregivers. So, even if you don’t know the rules, there are places to educate yourself and, in turn, educate your children.
Find PEDESTRIAN SAFETY TIPS here.
Find HOW NOT TO GET HIT BY A CAR here.
Do you feel the area around your neighborhood is safe for walking and riding?