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  • Tue August 10 2010
  • Posted Aug 11, 2010
Now is the time to prepare your children so they can walk to school. The start of the new school year is a good time to prepare for walking to school. During the past two to three decades, there has been an incredible rise in the in obesity and physical inactivity in children and adults. The impact on health and health care costs is high and will continue to rise dramatically. Walking to school is an easy way to combat these issues. Before school begins there are steps you can take to prepare your children for that first walk to school. Choose the safest route possible. Choose a route with sidewalks if you can, and which crosses very few, if any busy streets. If no sidewalks are present teach your child to walk facing oncoming traffic. If you encounter unsafe sidewalks, or other barriers, contact your community engineering department. Walk the route with your child before sending your child alone. If the route is difficult to remember or if the child is very young you may have to walk the route several times before the child has to walk alone. Do this before the first day of school, or plan on meeting your child for the first few days of school. Identify safe houses along the route. Point out family friends where the child might stop for help in case of trouble. Quiz the child as you pass these homes so that they will learn to recognize the right homes. Teach your child to cross only at intersections after looking both ways (Look left, look right, look left) before crossing the street. Remind the child to always walk, never run across the street and always look for turning traffic. Arrange for your child to walk with another child or adult if possible. Walking with a buddy will be helpful to your child in case any emergency should occur. Many communities have adults or retired seniors would be available to walk with children. Brief your child on how to respond to strangers who they might encounter. Are there busy intersections that your child needs to cross? Is there adequate traffic control? Contact you community engineering department to address these concerns. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition is an exciting organization working to promote Iowa cycling as safe and enjoyable recreation and transportation. The Iowa Safe Routes to School program is designed to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities to walk and bicycle to school; to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative. For more information on Safe Routes to School and Adult Crossing Guard Training Contact Jayne McGuire at: jayne@iowabicyclecoalition.org, (515) 309-2867 Go the Iowa Bicycle Coalition web site at www.iowabicyclecoalition.org While you are on the site look at the easy ways you can get started encouraging your youngsters to walk and bike to school.

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