It's Bike and Walk to School Day for Minnesota Students
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Expect to see a lot more Minnesota students getting to class today under their own power. This is Walk and Bike to School Day.
The goal, said Jodi Gertken, coordinator for the BLEND Coalitiion at CentraCare Health in St. Cloud, is to encourage more kids to walk or bike, while teaching them about the lifelong benefits of being active.
"Throughout the state of Minnesota," she said, "you are seeing groups that are coming together to encourage kids as well as families - even businesses - to say, 'Can mom or dad come to work a few minutes late? We're going to have a national Walk and Bike to School Day.' And try to get kids more accustomed to it, and parents more comfortable with the idea that kids could walk and bike safely to and from school."
In Minnesota, more than 70 schools are taking part in today's activities.
Every day, safety is a real concern, as thousands of children are injured and hundreds killed each year while walking, skateboarding or cycling. Gertken said rural areas can present even more hazards for getting to school than big cities.
"Because a lot of the county or state trunk highways don't have wide enough shoulders, or actual sidewalks or trails, it's even more unsafe for kids in rural areas to walk and bike to school safely," she said.
To help communities with the needs for safer roads and infrastructure, the American Heart Association and other advocacy groups will seek bond money in the 2014 legislative session to fund more "Safe Routes to School" in Minnesota. With the current levels, demand for the program exceeds the funding available by a more than five-to-one margin.
More information is online at walkbiketoschool.org.