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Did you or your community participate in October’s National Walk to School Month? Kids from around the country laced up their walking shoes to participate in events where they learned about all of the health, environmental, academic, and social benefits of walking to school, and got tips on how to do so safely too. According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, kids from 4,281 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia registered Walk to School Day events, setting a new Walk to School Day record, and they estimate that many more schools held events that were not registered on the website. The National Center also noted some interesting facts about the schools that registered for this year’s event:

  • 35 percent of participating schools (1,529) celebrated Walk to School Day for the first time in 2012;
  • 45 percent of participating schools (1,941) are part of an ongoing Safe Routes to School program;
  • One of every 21 elementary and middle schools in the country registered a Walk to School Day event; and
  • The three states with the highest registration rates (event registrations per total number of elementary and middle schools in the state) were South Carolina, Oregon and Mississippi, each registering at least 1 of 6 elementary and middle schools.

Here at the Greater Mercer TMA, where we act as the local Safe Routes to School coordinators for Mercer and Ocean counties in New Jersey, we worked with a number of schools in the month of October by providing walk to school day information, helping out with events, and offering educational workshops on how to walk safely. We took photos at four of our events — at Monument School in Trenton, Patton J Hill School in Trenton, Maurice Hawk School in West Windsor, and Lawrence Intermediate School in Lawrence. Check out the photos we took at these events on our Facebook page.

But of course, October isn’t the only month to walk to school. We want to see kids walking and biking every day of every month of every year. The benefits of having kids walk and bike to school are significant:

    • increasing the health, mobility, and independence of school-age children,
    • reducing congestion, air pollution and traffic conflicts around schools,
    • helping students arrive at school alert and ready to learn, and
    • teaching safe pedestrian and bicyclist skills that will last a lifetime

GMTMA is the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s designated SRTS coordinator for Mercer and Ocean counties. At no cost, GMTMA can help your school and community implement a SRTS program by helping you with the following SRTS elements:

Travel Plans

  • Document existing conditions
  • Identify assets, barriers, goals and actions
  • Outline responsibilities and funding sources

Bike/Walk Events & Education Assistance

  • Walking School Buses
  • Bike Rodeos
  • Assemblies
  • Safety education and “how to” teaching materials

Evaluation and Monitoring

  • Establish baseline of existing conditions
  • Student arrival/departure counts
  • Parent/caregiver surveys
  • Measure progress and adjust program as needed

Learn more on our website. Ready to get walking with us? Contact GMTMA’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator today!

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