More than 140 schools across Michigan are registered for Walk to School Day next week on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and will participate in exploring safe routes to school. This annual one-day event is coordinated by the Michigan Fitness Foundation in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and highlights the importance of youth fitness, in addition to teaching elementary and middle school students about traffic safety and environmental concerns.
"We are pleased to be working with MDOT once again on Walk to School Day 2013," said Meg Thomas, who directs the Michigan Fitness Foundation's Safe Routes to School program. "This year's theme is 'Exploration.' Our goal is for students to learn about safe routes by walking to school and becoming more aware of their surroundings. When children participate in an outdoor activity like walking to school, they learn more about their neighborhoods and the sidewalks and trails in their communities."
Schools interested in participating can register online at www.saferoutesmichigan.org. Registered schools receive free marketing materials to help plan the event, recognition as an International Walk to School Day participant and assistance from the Michigan Fitness Foundation and the Safe Routes to School team.
"This federally funded program enables MDOT to collaborate with parents, teachers, schools, students and neighborhoods on improvements that will benefit schoolchildren and result in safer routes for pedestrians and bicyclists in local neighborhoods," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Everyone benefits from working together to eliminate barriers to safe walking and bicycling."
The Michigan Safe Routes to School program is administered by MDOT, with training and administrative support provided by the Michigan Fitness Foundation and the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports. Funding for Safe Routes to School programs was established by Congress under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005 (SAFETEA-LU) and is continued through Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), in effect through Sept. 30, 2014. To learn more about Walk to School Day and Safe Routes to School, contact the Michigan Fitness Foundation at 800-434-8642.