The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently proposed a new project to change how children go to school. The campaign, which is entitled Safe Routes to School, works toward creating road improvements and reducing traffic violations thus making roads safer for kids.
However, the officials also use the program to emphasize the importance of having an active and healthy lifestyle while children are growing up. Expert studies showed that 26 percent of people aged 2 to 17 are either overweight or obese.
Health experts propose that children and adolescents should dedicate at least one hour of exercise daily. This routine reduces the risk of children developing obesity and heart diseases as they grow up.
Aside from physical health, walking and biking to school also improve the senses. Sustrans, a UK sustainable transport charity, said most teachers observed that children who biked or walked to school are more alert than those arriving by car.
In another study from the University of Denmark, it showed that children concentrate better after walking or biking. They perform better on activities such as solving puzzles and others that require focus.
Sustrans also shared that cyclists breathe more fresh air compared to those who ride cars. Therefore, it lessens the risk of lung problems caused by smoke lingering in the streets.
While reminding children to exercise through walking or biking, agencies advice that parents should also take note of their kids’ safety. They should not leave their children alone while walking, considering that they are not yet ready to be alone on the road.
Dr. Phyllis Agran from HealthyChildren.org recommended starting a walking school bus. It encourages families in a neighborhood to walk their children together. It also gives the guardians a chance to oversee that their kids are safe.
For teenagers, Dr. Agran suggests that they take safe routes to school. Aside from that, parents should remind their teen children not to use their phones while walking or biking.
The Safe Routes to School program accepts proposals from different groups that would help the Department of Transportation in making the program useful and efficient. The IDOT shall start applications from September 24 until November 19.