International Walk to School Day
Make IWALK a great annual PTA or PTO event
International Walk to School Day or IWALK is a day which promotes the health of kids, making great green choices, and provides safer routes for walking and bicycling. In the United States IWALK is typically on the second Wednesday of October each year.
My PTA has been involved with IWALK since I was PTA President in 2005 and we successfully get every student in the school involved, even those that ride a bus. The mayor of our town joins us, usually on election years, and we receive donations from the local businesses to hand out to the kids that participate.
How far did the student body walk last year?
What is IWALK?
Based on the International IWALK site, www.iwalktoschool.org. IWALK started in 1994 in Great Britain and in 2013 over 40 countries registered in the International Walk to School Month, which is October every year.
IWALK is a great idea, as it promotes exercise, teaches that walking a few blocks is OK, and if we walk, we're not polluting the neighborhood with our cars. Something great happens to a community that walks to school, you actually get to talk to your neighbor and share common experiences, or ask about the street light that is no longer working.
Any way you slice it, IWALK is good for you, your community, and your environment.
Creating a Safe IWALK Day
Be safe during your IWALK Event
In order to have a safe IWALK day at your school, you must plan ahead. The planning at my elementary school is done by a PTA chairperson, who coordinates with the school and the neighborhood to make IWALK a safe event for children and parents.
Walking to School
During the morning rush of getting kids to school, a lot of parents want to drive their kids, so creating a safe drop-off zone for the kids that allows everyone to participate in the morning rush lets everyone feel as if they are doing their part. I know this seems counter-intuitive, but getting the kids to participate and feel as if they are participating helps with school morale and with every event your PTA runs after this one.
Don't forget to advertise your event well in advance by telling parents and students where the safe drop off areas are and by highlighting the Safe Routes to School in your newsletters or email communications.
Busses and day care centers can't drop off except at the school, so don't even try to get them to move their stop for the day. Instead, have an alternative ready for these students, which may be walking around the school yard instead of going directly to the school entrance.
In addition, have every student participate during recess by walking around the school yard. Getting the kids to participate is the first step during the IWALK day.
How far did the school walk last year?
Did your school calculate how far everyone walked during last year's IWALK? We want to know how far they walked
Make IWALK Fun
IWALK is for everyone in your community
Don't forget to make IWALK fun, by making it an event the kids will continue to talk about with their parents and friends.
Invite your Elected Officials
What elected official doesn't want to be photographed with kids walking to a school? Invite the mayor, school board members, and local sports teams.
Does your school have a mascot, make sure he's out walking to school with the kids as well.
Get the local businesses in your community to hand out prizes to the kids. Our community hands out all kinds of things from coupons to restaurants, frisbees, and pencils. Everyone likes free stuff.
Have a special award for the classroom whose students walk the farthest. A donation for a classroom pizza party is always a great idea.
Track your Miles
Track how many miles the students walk, and make an announcement at the next assembly. The students will take pride in knowing that they contributed to the overall number.
My school tracks the number of miles walked on a map every year to show the students how far one person would have walked. The next year they start from where they ended the previous year and have been walking around the United States. It's a great way to have year over year success for your IWALK program.
Links to IWALK Websites
- International Walk to School in the USA
International Walk to School Day in the United States in 2013 is October 9th.
- International Walk to School
This site offers information about the importance of the International Walk to School event, who's walking around the world and how you can get involved.
- Safe Routes to School Program
Learn about the Safe Routes to School program, and take the Safe Routes to Schools Parent Survey
- Participating Countries for International Walk to School
This page offers information about who's walking around the world and how you can get involved. Check out the over 40 countries participating in IWALK across six continents.