We need to let our kids walk

As we all get our kids ready to start another school year, I wanted to share some great ideas and resources I learned about at the National Safe Routes to Schools Conference this summer.

Every parent is concerned about stranger danger and their kid’s safety while walking to school. The web-site KidPower.org is a great tool for parents to know about and learn how we can teach our kids to stay safe. The articles below teach parents how they can talk to their kids about safety effectively before they get out walking. One point that we always encourage is that parents walk with their kids a few times before letting them walk on their own (at an appropriate age). Parents and children should also have a designated routes home established and pre-determined.
Something I learned from one of the articles below is that instead of talking about Stranger Danger, we can talk to our kids about Stranger Safety. MOST strangers are actually safe and can help them if they need help.

http://www.kidpower.org/library/article/safety-tips-kidnapping/ (these are great tips for parents to teach kids how to walk safely).

The benefits of walking to school – I’m continually learning- far outweigh the dangers so, as we allow our kids to walk we are doing them a huge service in the long run.

Below is a quick list of what we can teach our kids when we walk with them and then allow them the freedom at an appropriate age to walk themselves.

  • Children’s minds perform better at school when they walk or bike to school (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i8f8LW283dbXDxKbV-1iRkdobVdQ?docId=CNG.597e39992a0ceda9cb2a6dccbc58f60f.121)
  • Children gain a great sense of confidence when they get themselves to and from school and other places in their communities.
  • Children come to know their community, the changing seasons and their surroundings better when they walk/bike instead of being in a car.
  • Parents and children have more meaningful quality time when they are walking and/or biking rather than driving somewhere together (one article talked about how a mother of a child with ADD does spelling quizzes while walking)
  • Walking and biking to school can start life-long habits of fitness and active living.
  • As more children walk, more children will walk because it feels safer, and more eyes will be on our streets (parents and children).
  • As children and parents are walking and biking to school they come to care more about their neighborhoods and their community.
  • As children walk, our elderly and other caring adults see our kids and come to know them, so a safety network starts building.

Another idea to share…..
If you have a problem area you’d like to address on your way to school, one way to address that concern is to do a Video Voice project on that problem area. By answering the 4 questions below in your video, your video can be an effective way to share your view point with others on YouTube (and even City Council) and have your concerns be heard.

Questions to answer for Video Voice projects:
1. Where am I standing for this video?
2. What’s happening
3. What’s wrong? What don’t we like?
4. How can we fix it?

Posted by:
Brooke Lowry Moscow, Idaho
Safe Routes to School Coordinator

A lifetime of being active can begin on the way to school.


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