TULSA, OK – [October 7, 2013] – The Tulsa County Wellness Partnership (TCWP) has partnered with Sequoyah Elementary School to launch a Sidewalk Stories photo contest that kicks off on October 9, which is National Walk to School Day.
Students will use disposable cameras to document their experience of walking to school or in their neighborhood. The contest is an expansion of the Sidewalk Stories video project that began earlier this year through a TCWP and the Accessible Transportation Coalition collaborative.
“The project is a unique way to raise awareness among students and their families about the benefits of walking, pedestrian safety and living an active lifestyle,” says Jessica Brent, the project’s coordinator and chair of the Accessible Transportation Coalition. “Through pictures the students will also have an opportunity to document things that make it difficult to walk such as lack of sidewalks.”
Students and their families across the country will walk or ride their bicycle to school on the national day. Last year, nearly 4,300 schools across the country registered their Walk to School events with the National Center for Safe Routes to School; many other schools that didn’t register also participated. In Oklahoma, 86 schools registered in 2012. By mid-September of this year, 50 schools have already registered to participate in Walk to School Day. Local schools are encourages to register their events at www.walkbiketoschool.org.
Walk to School Day began in 1997 to encourage physical activity and raise awareness for the need of walkable communities that are safe for pedestrians, especially children. Advocating for policies and projects that promote safe walking and bicycling, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, crosswalks and walking trails, is a priority for the TCWP.
“Walk to School Day presents a great opportunity for children and families in our area to get outside and move together,” said Dianna Potts, Sequoyah Elementary School Administrative Manager and TCWP member. “It’s a fun way for kids to get physical activity with family and friends, all while demonstrating community and school spirit.”
For numerous communities, the benefits of Walk to School Day continue long past that particular morning. According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, 39 percent of Walk to School events has led to the addition of crossing guards, 32 percent led to more safe walking or bicycling signage and 31 percent resulted in the laying of more sidewalks, paths or crosswalks.
Participation also can motivate kids and their families to exercise regularly. Children and teens are encouraged to spend at least 60 minutes every day on physical activity. For the past nine years, Walk to School survey respondents have listed physical activity/obesity prevention – by a wide margin – as their primary reason for participating.
Community residents, parents and school personnel can participate by:
Walking from home. Families also can join others in the neighborhood and walk to school together.
Designating a time and place for kids and families to meet, from which they all walk together.
Some schools, especially rural ones that have many students living far from campus, may set aside time on Walk to School Day for students and staff to walk in or around the school.
Contact a teacher or administrator to learn about Walk to School activities at your school, or to indicate interest in starting one there. For information about physical activity and practical ideas for moving more, visit www.shapeyourfutureok.com.
Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust
TSET is a grant making state agency that funds the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, public education campaigns to improve health and grants to communities, statewide organizations, and research institutions. The TSET Board of Directors’ strategic plan focuses on reducing cancer and cardiovascular disease – the state’s leading causes of preventable death – by preventing tobacco use and obesity.
Tulsa County Wellness Partnership
The Tulsa County Wellness Partnership is a sponsored group of the Family Health Coalition and is dedicated to changing policy and environments in Tulsa County to make healthy nutrition and fitness the easy choice in schools, workplaces and communities.