On Wednesday, October 5, 2016, Lawton Chiles Elementary in Tampa invited students, parents, and teachers to walk and bike to school. International Walk to School Day is a global celebration that has been working to encourage alternative modes of transportation that are good for our children since 1997. Chiles Elementary has participated in International Walk to School Day for over 10 years.
The Chiles Community came together this year for another successful celebration of pedestrian safety, physical activity, and school pride. Many families parked their vehicles at the nearby community clubhouse to join the walking parade, showing their support for alternative modes of transportation, although they typically drive because they live far away. Chiles Elementary P.E. Coach Mark Bachman led the annual walk with the assistance of school staff, parents, and health leaders who helped plan the event.
Chiles Elementary encouraged over 250 people to participate this year. The good turnout supports data collected by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research that was processed by the National Center for Safe Routes to School in 2015. The study demonstrates a statistically significant increase in walking and bicycling to Chiles between 2014 and 2015. Coach Bachman emphasized how important it is that these trends continue, and that friends and family influence one another to get more exercise on the way to school, before they sit down to learn. “International Walk to School Day is a great opportunity for our students to understand that sixty minutes of activity is essential! That starts as soon as the alarm clock rings,” says Bachman. “Walking and biking to school is a great way to start off each and every day.”