Healthy Ways Kids Can Get To School

The Oakdale Leader - - LEGAL -

Traf­fic on road­ways in­creases dur­ing the morn­ing and af­ter­noon hours dur­ing the school year. Dur­ing the morn­ing and mid-af­ter­noon, mil­lions of stu­dents make their way to and from school. Safe Routes to School Na­tional Part­ner­ship es­ti­mates that as much as 20 to 30 per­cent of all morn­ing traf­fic is gen­er­ated by par­ents driv­ing their chil­dren to school. To­day, many school-aged chil­dren are driven to school by their par­ents. That not only in­creases traf­fic and the op­por­tu­ni­ties for ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dents, but also con­trib­utes to the poor air qual­ity in and around lo­cal neigh­bor­hoods. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says air pol­lu­tion is linked to the deaths of three mil­lion peo­ple around the world each year. Driv­ing to school may also con­trib­ute to the obe­sity epi­demic plagu­ing the na­tion’s youth. The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion says the per­cent­age of chil­dren with obe­sity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Roughly one in five school-aged chil­dren is obese.

Fam­i­lies can find healthy ways to trans­port chil­dren to school, and these al­ter­na­tives can ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment as well. Walk to school Walk­ing one mile to and from school each day can ful­fill around two-thirds of the 60 min­utes of the rec­om­mended phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity for chil­dren each day. Con­sid­er­ing that re­cess times are be­ing cut and kids are spend­ing more time in­doors or on de­vices in­stead of play­ing out­side with friends, walk­ing to school pro­vides much-needed ex­er­cise. Young chil­dren should be ac­com­pa­nied by an adult chap­er­one when walk­ing to school. Older chil­dren are urged to walk in pairs or groups to in­crease safety in num­bers. Stu­dents should heed traf­fic sig­nals and stick to routes with ac­cess to cross­walks and cross­ing guards. Bike to school Bi­cy­cling is an­other great phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and an ef­fi­cient way to get to school. Health of­fi­cials re­port that when kids cy­cle at a mod­er­ate ef­fort for one mile, they can burn be­tween 20 and 30 calo­ries de­pend­ing on the weight of the child. When bik­ing to school, stu­dents should fol­low the rules of the road and wear the ap­pro­pri­ate safety gear, such as hel­mets. Car­pool Shar­ing rides to school is an­other way to cut down on con­ges­tion and air pol­lu­tion. Fam­i­lies can work to­gether to drive stu­dents to and from school, sports games and clubs. Ride the bus In dis­tricts that of­fer school bus ser­vice, stu­dents can take ad­van­tage of this safe mode of trans­port. The Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion says that trav­el­ing by school bus is seven times safer than trav­el­ing by car or truck. School buses also re­duce the num­ber of cars on the road dur­ing peak travel times.

Bi­cy­cling can be an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way to get to school, but young bi­cy­clists need to fol­low the rules of the road and wear the ap­pro­pri­ate safety gear.

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