Children Take Steps Towards Establishing Lifelong Habit of Physical Activity

CHAPEL HILL , N.C. -- Schoolchildren from all 50 states will take important steps towards increasing their physical activity by participating in International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 4, 2006.

“There is encouraging research that shows walking to school is associated with higher overall physical activity throughout the school day,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School. “Holding a Walk to School Day event can be a great catalyst to getting kids up and active.”

The benefits of walking to school extend beyond increasing physical activity, such as decreasing congestion surrounding schools, increasing an emphasis on pedestrian safety in the community, decreasing emissions surrounding the school and even improving student behavior and performance within the classroom.

“Parents and teachers have commented to us that children arrive more alert and ready for the day when they walk to school,” said Marchetti.

The 2006 event marks the tenth International Walk to School Day. What started with one school in Chicago has grown to more than 5,000 schools in the U.S. On a global scale, nearly 4 million people participate in approximately 40 countries.

Many Walk to School events are conducted as a part of a Safe Routes to School program, a sustained, community effort to improve the health and well-being of children by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier and more enjoyable.

In July 2005, Congress passed federal legislation that established a national Safe Routes to School program. The program dedicates a total of $612 million towards Safe Routes from 2005 to 2009.

Established in May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School assists communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bicycle to school. The Center strives to equip Safe Routes to School programs with the knowledge and technical information to implement safe and successful strategies. The Center serves as the coordinating agency for Walk to School activities in the U.S.

To view the names of registered schools participating in Walk to School Day in the U.S., please visit For a complete list of participating countries, please visit For past photos of Walk to School activities from around the world, please visit