Hundreds in Wauwatosa take part in International Walk to School Day

WAUWATOSA -- On Wednesday, October 3rd, more than 300 students and their parents at Wauwatosa’s McKinley Elementary School abandoned school buses and carpools, and instead, laced up their walking shoes to mark International Walk to School Day.

“Driving in a car, you just sit down and not enjoy the ride. While walking to school, you get exercise and fresh air," fifth-grader Bella Palazzari said.

On International Walk to School Day, over 4,000 schools in 40 countries joined forces to encourage kids to walk every day. 

Walking is an activity that seems to have lost its luster, so parents like A.J. Grove are trying to change the culture.

“We live about three to four blocks away and every day, we walk them through rain, snow and sleet.  As long as it's not below zero, generally, we will walk to school,” Grove said.

On top of promoting a healthy lifestyle, International Walk to School Day highlights the importance of protecting the environment by decreasing vehicle emissions and pollution, and teaching children how to stay safe as a pedestrian.

“Safe Routes really takes an approach to make sure there's a safe way to school and then to start encouraging kids to walk more,” Sarah Lerand, Safe Routes to School Committee Chair said.

International Walk to School Day has been an annual tradition for the last 15 years, and the effort grows every year.

On International Walk to School Day, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced the debut of a web site aimed at teaching children about pedestrian and bicycle safety. The site provides interactive resources that emphasize the department’s commitment to child safety.

In Wisconsin, children from the ages of five through 14 make up just 14% of the total population, but account for more than half of all bicycle injuries and 12 percent of pedestrian injuries -- according to the Wisconsin DOT.

The DOT says most injuries are the result of not following basic safety rules, such as looking before crossing the street and stopping at a stop sign. WisDOT’s new children’s safety web site strives to help teach children these safety rules and prevent injuries.

This web site offers tips for a wide range of safety issues. It includes information about wearing a bike helmet correctly, using hand signals, and following street signs. The site also covers pedestrian safety issues, such as knowing where to walk and dressing properly at night. Each issue is presented through pictures and easy-to-read text. Teachers will also find safety quizzes, games, and fun activities to do with their students.

To access the Wisconsin DOT's new website, CLICK HERE.