“This is so FUN! Let’s do this every day.” -students at Klamath Falls elementary schools.
That sentiment was echoed by kids across the Oregon yesterday as over 30,000 students walked or rode to school for International Walk+Bike to School Day.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Walk+Bike Network are excited to announce that 260 Oregon schools participated in the 2013 International Walk+Bike to School Day on October 9th, coming in 4th in state-wide participation, just behind California (519 schools), Florida (284), and South Carolina (277)!
“I am so proud of each and every volunteer Walk+Bike Organizer who held amazing events at schools all over the state,” said LeeAnne Fergason, Education Director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. ”We are grateful for the time and commitment to the health and safety of the 30,000 students impacted! Next year let’s give South Carolina and Florida a run for their money!”
Walk+Bike to School Day is celebrated in many schools as part of a larger Safe Routes to School program based on 5 programmatic principles aimed at increasing the number of families walking and riding to school for health and safety: education, encouragement, engineering improvements, enforcement engagement, and evaluation.
Portland Transportation Bureau Director Leah Treat “As a mom of four children I am always concerned about their safety, being able to get them to and from school is something my husband and I think about twice every day during the school year. As (Portland’s) Transportation Director I care about every child traveling to and from school in a safe manner. And I want to encourage healthy choices in that endeavor. Safe Routes to School is a great resource that helps our city do just that.”
The BTA has been working since 1998 to encourage students to walk and bike on International Walk+Bike to School Day. Participation has increased from 47 schools and 7,000 students in 2004 to what we saw yesterday when 20% of Oregon’s 1,305 schools participated. Over 30,000 Oregon kids took an important step towards being active and healthy yesterday because they walked or biked to school.
“The childhood obesity epidemic is a crisis that, in the long run, affects all of us,” says Dr. Jimmy Unger, a Portland pediatrician who attended a Walk+Bike to School Day event at Maplewood Elementary in Portland. “As one who spends much of my day encouraging families to be more active for the sake of their children’s health, I know that efforts such as these at Maplewood make it easier for families to make healthy choices.”
At Maplewood and other schools across Oregon, Volunteer Walk+Bike Organizers pulled off some amazing events and took note of students’ reactions:
- “I over heard kid say, ‘I love walking.’” -Burt Tate, Roseburg
- “The health room is filled with scooters! and 7th grader with walk bike shoe lace tied to his head, ‘yeah, I’m starting a trend.’” -Cynthia Keifer, Beaverton
- “Students are bragging that they walk almost everyday.” -Nicole Perry, Milwaukie
- “One student said, ‘I want to ride to school EVERY day this year!’” -Julie Gefroh, Portland
- “Teachers were saying, ‘This was AWESOME!’” -Katrina Hanson, Roseburg
- “Kids shouted, ‘We should do this every month!’” -Brett Walter, Portland
- “Kids are already asking when the next (event) is.” -Bobbi St. Clair, Grant’s Pass
- “Kids said, ’That was cool!’” -Kim Ryhlick, Hood River
“The more we celebrate with students, the more they and their communities value making an active trip to school, and the more they want to do it,” says Fergason. “We have all heard the terrifying statistics on childhood obesity and understand who is at risk. International Walk+Bike to School Day is just one way we can help give kids what they want: more safe places to walk and ride.”