Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mount Penn's Walking School Bus

Contact: Michele Barrett, President
(610) 779-9702
December 9, 2008

For Immediate Release: Mount Penn Elementary School’s Walking School Bus

Studies show that fewer children are walking and biking to school, and more children are at risk of becoming overweight. Changing behaviors of children and parents require creative solutions that are safe and fun. Implementing a walking school bus can be both.

On Wednesday, December 10, Mount Penn Elementary will hold a second walk to school day celebration as part of their campaign to get more children walking to school. Together with WalkBikeBerks, Mount Penn Administrators, teachers and parents will create a ‘walking school bus’ to lead children through their community streets. A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. If that sounds simple, it is, and that’s part of the beauty of the walking school bus.

This program is a result of a PANA (Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity) Safe Routes to School Academy Mini-Grant. Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school.

Mount Penn Elementary students will practice pedestrian safety skills, enjoy social time with their friends, and adopt an active lifestyle that can change their futures. “Two recent studies have found that walking to school is associated with higher overall physical activity throughout the day. There are many potential benefits of physical activity for youth including:
  • Weight and blood pressure control
  • Bone, muscle, and joint health and maintenance
  • Reduction in the risk of diabetes
  • Improved psychological welfare
  • Better academic performance
Mount Penn Administrators hope to see other benefits realized in their community as well. As much as 26% of morning traffic can be school-related. Traffic can lead to even less walking or biking. As more children are driven, more parents become convinced that traffic conditions make it unsafe for walking and biking and they join the line of cars at the school. When more children walk to school, the number of cars surrounding the school is reduced at pick-up and drop-off times making it safer for children and reducing traffic congestion.

WalkBikeBerks is a county-wide nonprofit organization working to make walking and bicycling practical, convenient and safe recreation and transportation options for everyone in Berks County, PA. WalkBikeBerks was established in February 2008 and is working with every community members to promote ongoing bicycle and pedestrian improvements through engineering, education, encouragement and enforcement programs. They are working to provide SRTS programs to all schools in the county. To learn more, contact walkbikeberks@yahoo.com.

The Penn State Hershey Center for Nutrition & Activity Promotion works on a statewide scale through Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity (PANA) to deliver programs and events that support healthy eating and physical activity in schools, recreation, healthcare, and the community. A new round of SRTS Academy Mini-Grants are available online now at http://www.srtsacademy.org/.


1 comment:

  1. Did this program go well? I think it is a wonderful idea and should be promoted in all areas where children live within walking distance to school.