|For Immediate Release|
|Tuesday, October 4, 2005|
|Contact:||Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106|
Commissioner Urges Families To Participate In International Walk To School Day
MALDEN - Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll encouraged parents to consider walking their children to school instead of driving them on Wednesday, in honor of International Walk to School Day.
In place since 2003, millions of children, parents, teachers and community leaders from around the world participate in the annual event, aimed at encouraging students to walk or bike to school rather than be driven or take the bus. Nationwide, more than 60 percent of children walked or biked to school in the 1960s - today studies show that that figure is closer to 10 percent.
In Massachusetts, schools in Boston, Lexington, Marblehead, North Reading, Northampton, Scituate, Stoneham and Worcester have scheduled special events around Walk to School Day.
“I am pleased to see that Massachusetts communities are beginning to participate in this important event, and do their part to create safe pathways so children can walk to school each day,” said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. “By ignoring this important need, children either walk along busy and unsafe streets, or have to forgo the exercise entirely and be driven to and from school. I hope that over time more communities will participate and do their part to see that walking to school is a pleasure, not a health hazard.”
The goal of the annual event is to remind children and their families about the importance of physical activity, and to promote the need for communities to develop more safe areas for children to walk. Walk to School activities often become a catalyst for on-going efforts to increase safe walking and bicycling all of the time.
Belmont Representative Anne Paulsen has filed a bill to establish a “Safe Routes to School” program in Massachusetts. This would allow the state to distribute federal funds from the Safety Set-Aside to municipalities to improve safety in and around schools. This competitive grant program would encourage walking and biking to school by establishing safety education programs, and promoting the installation of new crosswalks, bikes lanes and signs, and construction of multi-use trails connecting to schools.
For more information on Safe Routes to Schools look online at www.saferoutestoschools.org. For more information on International Walk to School Day, look online at www.walktoschool.org.