Hattiesburg– On Wednesday, Oct. 3, thousands of students, parents and communities representing more than 3,300 schools across the United Sates will walk and bicycle to school to celebrate International Walk to School Day. This one-day event is part of an international effort to encourage more families to get out of their cars and on to their feet to enjoy the many benefits of safely walking and bicycling to school.
“Walk to School Day continues to inspire community-grown events that celebrate health, safety and a sense of community,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School (SRTS), which serves as the coordinating agency for the event. “Often, this one-day event becomes the catalyst to larger commitments and permanent improvements that make walking and bicycling to school safer transportation options year round.”
In 2011, Mississippi had the highest participation rate in the country. Mayor DuPree, Hattiesburg firefighters and police, will continue the tradition by joining a group of Lillie Burney Elementary students on tomorrow morning as part of the school’s Walk to School Day celebration. “We love any opportunity to promote safety, fitness and family-time,” said Mayor DuPree. “I would like to issue a challenge to all parents in the area to take a moment to take part in the event.”
The Mayor and other elected officials, along with the Mississippi Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom King and Hattiesburg Public School District Superintendent James Bacchus, recently celebrated the completion of a SRTS project at Rowan Elementary School.
The SRTS program enables and encourages children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school. The program will also aid the City in the fight against obesity as it encourages healthy and active lifestyles among children at an early age.
Walk to School Day was founded in 1997 as a way to bring community leaders and children together to build awareness of the need for communities to be more walkable. By 2002, children, parents, teachers and community leaders in all 50 states and the District of Columbia joined nearly 3 million walkers around the world to celebrate the second annual International Walk to School Day. In 2011, students and parents from more than 4,000 U.S. schools joined millions of Walk to School Day and Month participants worldwide. The one-day event has now grown to a month-long celebration, and the reasons for walking have grown just as quickly as the event itself. For more information about Walk to School Day, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org.