About this time of year when the temperature starts cooling, the school bells begin ringing, and the school drop off and pick up lines start forming, I wonder why parents choose to drive their kids to and from school. I have been one of those parents who are bumper to bumper forming a long train-like line easing forward an inch at a time with my eyes on the prize. You know what that is. It is the one perfect stall right in front of the school doors. The one perfect spot where you can drop off your kids and they don’t have to take any more steps than necessary to get into the school. Why as parents do we do this? Have we not realized that it’s harming our kids?
Over the past 40 years, we have seen a 35% decline in the percent of kids who walk or bike to school and in turn have seen the rates of obesity soar. In fact, the prevalence of obesity is so great that today’s generation of children may be the first in over 200 years to not live as long as their parents. I don’t know about you, but this is frightening to me. I know that I want my kids to live a long and healthy life so they can out live me and enjoy their time with their own kids and grandkids. But in order for this to happen we need to do something about it now.
As a society, we need to move from car-centric to pedestrian-oriented. Basically, we just need to drive less and walk more. How do we do this? We simply start by walking or biking our kids to school, the park, or the pool. We walk as a family to local sporting events. We attach a trailer to our bikes or strap on a backpack to grab a few groceries. We simply need to leave our keys at home more often and walk or bike to our destination and start focusing on the journey toward the destination and not the destination alone.
Join me in this walking movement by focusing on the journey and replacing one vehicle trip with a walking trip. I promise that as you begin to take in your surroundings and you hear the birds singing beautifully above and you smell the lilacs that are beginning to bloom that you won’t be disappointed. You will be thankful that you saved yourself a little frustration at drop-off and pick-up and that you have helped your kids move more so they learn more and live a longer, healthier life.
Author: Angela Drent is a Health Promotion Specialist at the Siouxland District Health Department and is one of 15 fellows participating in the Iowa Walking College. This Fellowship enables community advocates from across the state to participate in a six-month training program designed to strengthen local efforts to make communities more walkable and livable.