Several St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 schools will join other schools in Kane County and around the world on Wednesday, Oct. 3, in observing International Walk to School Day.
The day is being praised by the Making Kane County Fit for Kids Funders Consortium and other area schools for reasons that include that it reduces traffic which in turn means cleaner air, it makes streets safer and, topping the list, it helps children and parents to be healthier.
On its website, District 303 emphasized that latter point: “The purpose of the day is promote healthy lifestyles for our students by sharing the health and social benefits of walking to school together.”
District 303 also said the day serves as the start of the Fuel-Up-To-Play60 program, which is sponsored by the Dairy Council and the National Football League, as well as a celebration of the Kane County Fit for Kids initiative.
The Kane County Health Department said the number of schools participating in Walk to School festivities in Kane County is growing. There were 45 in 2010, 49 in 2011, and 53 signed up to participate this year.
The physical activity the kids get from walking to and from school is important, the Health Department said, because more than one-third of Kane County children are overweight or obese, which is a risk factor for chronic disease. Chronic disease has been identified as one of the threats to community health and well-being in the Health Department’s 2012-16 Community Health Improvement Plan.
Over the years, the percentage of children walking or riding their bikes to school has dropped, the Health Department said. While there are many valid reasons for the drop, Walk to School Day highlights the importance of developing safe and easy ways to increase the physical activity that makes kids healthier.
The Fit for Kids Funders Consortium is providing $300 mini-grants to each participating school’s PTO to support Walk to School activities.
International Walk to School Day started in Chicago in 1997 and now is marked in all 50 states. In 2009, people from 40 different countries around the world participated.
To learn more about the Making Kane County Fit for Kids initiative, please visit the Kane County Health Department’s website at www.kanehealth.com/fitforkids.htm, or call Michael Isaacson at 1-630-208-3140. More information about the International Walk to School Day is available at www.walktoschool.org.
This year the Walk to School Day sponsors are United Health Care, Reflejos, Beacon-News, The Courier-News, City of Aurora, and Provena Mercy Medical Center.
The Fit for Kids Funders Consortium includes the United Way of Elgin, the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley, Kane County Development Department, Kane County Regional Office of Education, Kane County Forest Preserve District and Kane County Health Department.