~Events help improve health and well-being of school children~
The Florida Departments of Health (FDOH) and Transportation (FDOT) are teaming up to promote the health and well-being of school children for International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 6.
FDOH’s 13 regional coordinators, FDOT’s seven districts and many local partners have contributed to Florida’s more than 192 events, representing more than 6 percent of the events in the United States. For more details on the Florida events, please go to: http://www.walktoschool.org/who/seestate.cfm?st=FL.
Now in its 13th year, Walk to School Day is a part of an international effort in more than 40 countries to celebrate the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school and to encourage more families to consider getting out of the car and onto their feet on the way to school throughout October, which is International Walk to School Month.
“Walking to school is a wonderful way to incorporate physical activity into every weekday,” State Surgeon General Ana M. Viamonte Ros, M.D., M.P.H., said. “There are four times as many overweight children today as there were 25 years ago and children who join a walking school bus will increase their physical activity and improve their health.”
FDOT coordinates the federally-funded Florida Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program, sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments that enable and encourage children to walk and bicycle to school. Activities range from building sidewalks, to getting drivers to slow down in school zones, to encouraging students to take active trips to school with a tracking competition. On average, about half of Walk to School Day events are part of an ongoing SRTS program each year.
“Our goal at FDOT is to help children safely arrive at school,” Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos said. “Our children are our most precious commodity.”
In the last year, the departments have collaborated on DOH’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, which includes the promotion of physical activity through support of International Walk to School Day and Walking School Buses. Throughout the week, schools across the state will be implementing the Walking School Bus concept to help children safely walk to school. The Walking School Bus program not only supervises young children, it teaches young children safe walking and biking skills.
In the United States, Walk to School Day grows in numbers and relevance each year. Thousands of students, parents, schools, and communities in more than 3,000 schools in all 50 states are celebrating the simple act of walking and bicycling to school. Walking or bicycling to school embodies two main goals of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign in that it increases kids’ physical activity and empowers parents to make healthy choices.
The reasons for walking have grown just as quickly as the event itself. Whether a community’s concern is safer and improved streets, healthier habits or the environment, Walk to School Day events are aimed at bringing forth permanent change to encourage a more walkable, bikeable America – one community at a time. For more information, visit www.walktoschool.org.
For more details on the Florida Safe Routes to School program, see www.srtsfl.org or contact Pat Pieratte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mission of the Florida Department of Health is to promote, protect, and improve the health of all people in Florida. Visit www.healthyfloridians.com for more information.
The mission of the Florida Department of Transportation is to provide a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity and preserves the quality of our environment and communities.