NORMAN — On a crisp October Tuesday morning, students and their parents didn’t let the chill deter their plans to be healthy as they wrapped themselves in jackets, laced up their tennis shoes and walked or biked to school.
As part of Roosevelt Elementary School’s effort to keep their students healthy, the Safe, Healthy and Fit Committee signed the school up to participate in National Walk or Bike to School Day.
Promoted by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the official national event will occur today. Tom Menzie, Roosevelt PE teacher said the school hosted their Walk to School Day early because Norman Public Schools will be closed today due to professional development.
Walk to School Day began in 1997 to encourage physical activity and raise awareness for safe, walkable communities, especially for children. National Walk or Bike to School Day encourages schools to participate because it promotes healthier habits by getting children to exercise, helps make the environment cleaner by reducing air-polluting emissions from cars and fosters community benefits like reducing traffic congestion, boosting a sense of community and improving neighborhood connections.
In Oklahoma, 74 schools signed up to participate in this year’s Walk or Bike to School Day. Menzie said Roosevelt had participated in the program for about six years and the school hosts a Walk to School event in the fall and the spring.
“We always teach healthy habits, and walking to school is just another way to reinforce this,” Menzie said.
For numerous communities, the benefits of Walk or Bike to School Day continue long past the event.
According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, 39 percent of Walk to School events led to the addition of crossing guards, 32 percent led to more safe walking or bicycling signs and 31 percent resulted in more sidewalks, paths or crosswalks.