Thousands of Sonoma County students are expected to ditch motorized transportation and walk or bicycle to school next week as part of International Walk & Roll to School Day.
Four schools in Rohnert Park and Cotati have registered to participate in the event on Oct. 9, and organizers expect 10,000 students countywide to participate. Some schools are participating on different days.
"Walking or riding a bike to school helps children in numerous ways: exercise before school improves concentration, decreases obesity, connects kids with their neighborhoods and sets a trend for lifelong regular, joyful physical activity," Bonnie O. McDonell, Family and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Kaiser Santa Rosa Pediatrics, said in a statement.
In Rohnert Park, the schools participating are Monte Vista Elementary, Marguerite Hahn Elementary, which is participating Oct. 8, and Evergreen Elementary, which participated on Sept. 27. In Cotati, Thomas Page Academy is participating. participating 9/27/13)
The press release from the Sonoma County Safe Routes to School program quotes a Santa Rosa parent who says traffic around her school is "much calmer" during its weekly walk and ride to school day.
Is your child participating? Does he or she walk or bike to school on a regular basis? Tell us why in the comments section below.
The full press release follows:
The Sonoma County Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program battles the childhood obesity epidemic as thousands of children across Sonoma County strap on helmets, kick up kickstands, and power up their feet and walk or roll to school on Wednesday, October 9th in celebration of the annual International Walk & Roll to School Day event. The event is produced by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition’s SRTS program in partnership with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Kaiser Permanente, and Safe Kids Sonoma County.
As of September 18, 69 schools have registered Walk & Roll to School Day events in Sonoma County, and approximately 10,000 students are expected to participate. Thousands more participate around the world.
Many schools are organizing walking school buses and bike trains to school to highlight and celebrate the benefits of choosing student-powered transportation to school. At numerous schools across the county and nation, International Walk and Roll to School Day is the launch of an ongoing Safe Routes to School program that includes weekly or monthly walk & roll days and walk/bike safety education. At Cali Calmécac in Windsor, a Walking School bus that sometimes reaches 100+ participants travels to school from the Town Green every Wednesday year round. The Sonoma County SRTS education program includes an innovative Walk & Bicycle Safety assembly written and performed by the local Imaginist Theater troupe, bicycle skill/safety rodeos, and walk & bicycle safety classroom lessons.
The SRTS program has had a tremendous impact at Proctor Terrace Elementary School in Santa Rosa, where since the start of the program, there has been a 27% increase in students walking and bicycling to school. Proctor Terrace parent and SRTS School team member Connie Sultana says “Traffic around the school and neighborhood is much calmer on ‘Walk and Roll to School Wednesdays’ and the school crossing guard, Pat, really earns her money that day. On an average day 20% of our students walk and bike to school. On Walk and Roll Wednesdays the number jumps to about 60%. Everyone is outside with smiles on their faces and you can feel the energy of the group. Not only is the exercise good for the health of our students and community members, but it really adds to our school spirit. Two years ago, I was the only one with a tandem bike. Now I have noticed about 8 more, which shows people are getting more creative with their biking too.”
Programs like Safe Routes to School that encourage safe walking and bicycling to school are key in fighting our national obesity epidemic. "Walking or riding a bike to school helps children in numerous ways: exercise before school improves concentration, decreases obesity, connects kids with their neighborhoods and sets a trend for lifelong regular, joyful physical activity." says Bonnie O. McDonell, Family and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Kaiser Santa Rosa Pediatrics.
The Sonoma County SRTS program is making a difference. At schools implementing ongoing programs, preliminary data indicates an average increase of students walking and bicycling to school of 6%, with some of the county’s champion schools displaying a tremendous increase in students walking and bicycling to school: Corona Creek Elementary has demonstrated a 30% increase since 2011, Evergreen Elementary has shown a 13% jump since 2010, and a 12% rise in rates since 2011 has been seen at Cali Calmecac Language Academy. SRTS is helping Sonoma County move toward a healthier community.