Feet will hit the street again for the Walk to School Program in Flint, Genesee County and dozens of other Michigan cities Oct. 2. One of the state’s largest annual back-to-school events, the activity is organized by the Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) and the Safe Routes to School program.
Events range from full-blown parades to group walks with costumed participants and colorful signage. Schools are encouraged to get creative and incorporate this year’s theme, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.”
The day is designed to create new, safe routes for students to travel to and from school, and promote health, wellness, and physical activity.
“Walk to School Day is a great way for students to rev up their morning routine. Participation in this event can be an exciting first step in planning Safe Routes to School activities and encouraging a culture of walking and biking to school,” says Adam Jenks, Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator for MFF.
“The Michigan Fitness Foundation is partnering with the Michigan Department of Transportation to help make Michigan one of national leaders in the number of participating schools for Walk to School Day,” says Jenks
This year the MFF hopes to exceed its 2018 participation, which included more than 40,000 students registered from almost 300 schools, says Jenks. Michigan’s Walk to School effort was the sixth-largest in the nation.
Walk to School Day encourages students to seek a lifetime of physical activity. The event takes place nationally and internationally, promoting the growth of walkable communities while helping to reduce traffic and air pollution. Walk to School Day also gives young people an opportunity to engage with their communities and build confidence, Jenks says.
The effort, just one of a number of activities organized by Safe Routes to School, brings together parents, educators, local law enforcement and community agencies to demonstrate “what more active transportation” looks like in their neighborhoods, says Jenks. Walking or bicycling to class are emphasized as a means of incorporating physical activity throughout the school year. Safe Route supporters also examine and improve the neighborhood landscapes students travel to class each day, placing particular emphasis on safety.
To support communities interested in Safe Routes to School, MFF offers a grant to fund non-infrastructure improvements and put “more eyes on the street” through adult supervision and coordination of student routes, Jenks says.
“We have another grant that goes toward physically altering the built environment” including repairing cracked pavement and other safety measures, he adds.
Through the program local residents are assisted in collaborating with municipal agencies.
To register for or get more information about the Walk to School program visit MFF’s Walk to School Day page. Additional information about the Safe Routes to School program can be found on the Foundation’s Safe Routes to School page.