New program helps kids get physical activity by walking to school.
Students and schools in Deschutes, Jefferson, Crook and northern Klamath counties will now have the opportunity to participate in walking school buses as a safe, convenient and healthy way to get to school. Commute Options recently received a $123,000 grant from the Central Oregon Health Council’s Regional Health Improvement Plan (RHIP) Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention Workgroup to design and implement a Walking School Bus program to encourage kids and families to walk to and from school.
What is a walking school bus? A walking school bus is a group of children who walk to school together with one or more adults. Much like a school bus, as the students walk towards the school, they pick up more classmates along the way. From May 2018 through November 2019, Commute Options will create routes with meeting points, timetables, and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers at schools and in neighborhoods.
Studies show that kids who walk or bike to school are healthier, happier and often do better in school. With rising obesity and diabetes rates, children’s health is at stake when they don’t get enough physical activity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get, at minimum, one hour or more of physical activity each day.
“Walking to school is a great way to increase your child’s physical activity, thus ensuring they get closer to the recommended amount of daily physical activity. With the Walking School Bus program, our goal is to help kids and families get physical activity, reduce traffic congestion at schools, and get to know their neighborhoods,” says Brian Potwin, active transportation manager for Commute Options.
Donna Mills, executive director for the Central Oregon Healthy Council says, “The best investment we can make is in our children’s health, and we are always looking upstream to catch poor health choices before they present themselves to kids and adolescents. When kids get more physical activity in their daily lives, they often do better in school and they are more likely to become healthy, resilient adults. Commute Options is the expert in getting kids walking more, so this is a perfect partnership to help us meet our goals.”
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. Through active transportation choice, Commute Options encourages healthy individuals, a clean environment, and a strong economy. Commute Options represents transportation options in our community by educating citizens, businesses and government about the value of carpooling, vanpooling, walking, bicycling, teleworking and using public transportation.