The annual observance encourages parents to combat childhood obesity with physical activity every day.
IMPERIAL COUNTY — Schools in Heber, Seeley, and Westmorland, as well as local law enforcement, health care providers, community organizations, Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Imperial County Public Health Department are celebrating International Walk to School Month in October. As part of the month’s celebration, local schools will be observing International Walk to School Day, a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day, and will take action in creating safer routes to and from school.
This year’s Walk to School Day is October 2. Local schools will be holding events to raise awareness for creating safer walking and bicycling routes and to emphasize the importance of increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment. These events build connections between families, schools and the broader community.
The Community Obesity Prevention Alliance’s (COPA) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Workgroup and (SCAG) are working with schools and local agencies to raise awareness about pedestrian and bike safety using messaging from the Go Human Campaign. Go Human is a Southern California community outreach and advertising campaign that focuses on reducing traffic collisions and encourages children and adults to walk and bike more often. “We are proud to join efforts again with our local schools to give our kids valuable tools by encouraging a healthy lifestyle through active transportation and an awareness of safety as they exercise this mobility choice,” said Executive Director of SCAG Kome Ajise.
“The Imperial County Office of Education is committed to working with our partners to improve the quality of life in our community and fully supports their efforts during walk to school month. Safer routes and lifelong fitness are two critical elements directly related to preparing our students for life, college, and career,” said ICOE’s Safety and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Alvaro Ramirez.
According to the California Department of Public Health, walking is one of the easiest, low-cost ways to get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week for adults, and 60 minutes a day of physical activity for children and teens up to 17 years old. “Children that participate in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day can lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes," said Community Education Supervisor II from UC Cooperative Extension Paul Tabarez.
Walk to School events, and constant pedestrian and bike safety messages, make it easier for children to walk and bike to and from school, which in turn helps children’s increased physical activity.
“If your child rides a bike or scooter to school, please teach them that they too must obey all traffic laws. Pedestrians should keep to the sidewalks and stop, look and listen before entering the cross a street. Use crosswalks or intersections that have a crossing guard if possible,” said Tina Garcia, crime prevention services supervisor.
The schools listed below reached out to the COPA SRTS Workgroup members for assistance with planning and coordination of Walk to School events. Workgroup members will support the following Walk to School events scheduled throughout the month of October:
*Westmorland School, Tuesday, October 1, 7:20 a.m., Little Citizens Park
*Calipatria Park, Wednesday, October 2, 6:30 a.m. Rademarcher Park
*Heber School, Wednesday, October 2, 7:30 a.m., Sacred Heart Catholic Church
*Niland Park, Thursday, October 3, 6:30 a.m., Grace Smith Gym, Niland
*Dogwood Elementary, Heber, Friday, October 4, 7:20 a.m., Tito Huerta Park
*Seeley School, Wednesday, October 9, 7:20 a.m., John Bates Memorial Park
For details about the Walk to School events or information about the Imperial County SRTS Program, contact Yoli Viviana Sanchez, Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (442) 265-1408.
The Safe Routes to School Workgroup provides expertise and assistance to schools and communities to implement Safe Routes to School Interventions. Members are available to assist schools plan and implement activities and design policies for lasting changes.
SCAG is the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, representing six counties, 191 cities and more than 18 million residents. SCAG undertakes a variety of planning and policy initiatives to plan for a livable and sustainable Southern California now and in the future. For more information about SCAG’s regional efforts, please visit www.scag.ca.gov.