Walking to School – Let’s Make it a Habit Again

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy the writing and the message of the Free Range Kids blog … today she pens Whatever Happened to Walking to School? in the Wall Street Journal.

How did we get to this point? How did we forget that it’s just a walk to school?

Simple. We bought the line that good parenting is the same as over-parenting. That the more we could do for our children, the better. We forgot the joy of scuffing down the street when we were young, crunching leaves, picking up seeds, and decided we’d do it all for our kids, independence be damned!

Except independence is good. Children who walk to school are healthier, for obvious reasons. New studies suggest they may do better academically, too. “You can see the difference in the kids who walk or bike,” says Jerry Flynn, principal of St. Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic school in Indianapolis that has been encouraging parents to stop driving their kids. “They’re bright, chatty, ready to go.”

And one day, they might even get to tell their own kids something more than: “When I was your age, I walked 10 feet to the SUV—and it was uphill both ways.”

I’ve been walking my daughter to school a couple days a week for the past two years. The time spent with her is invaluable – we talk, share, laugh, play in a way that we don’t do at any other time.

I have been advocating for walkability for some time – the benefits – physical, mental and real estate values – are remarkable.

I know this – walkability has become more of an absolute “must-have” for more of my clients seeking to buy homes in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area. They want to be “close to stuff.” Period.

A few stories that speak to walkability in the Charlottesville area:

Albemarle County Schools Fighting Obesity Epidemic

Crozet Mudhouse – Will it Increase Property Values?

Walkability – More than a Fad

Crozet is getting a grant to enhance/create “a pedestrian-friendly environment in the area surrounding (Crozet Elementary)“.

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  1. Jessica Beganski September 7, 2010 at 12:11

    I just finished reading Lenore’s book! Neighborhood design (lack of sidewalks, lot sizes) can lead to a feeling of insecurity – when you don’t see kids out playing, people out walking their dogs, don’t ever have reason to see or talk to your neighbors, you feel unsafe. I see dozens of kids in my neighborhood lined up at the bus stops, even though we’re a short distance from school and I think it has a lot to do with how my neighborhood is laid out- windy streets with no sidewalks and heavily wooded lots.

    1. Jim September 8, 2010 at 06:04

      Urban design is absolutely a culprit, but it’s also the parents’ fault for living in a culture of fear that seems to be propagated by the 24 hour news cycle that discusses how scary our world is (when it’s really not).

      I know that more folks in my area would like to walk to school, but sidewalks don’t exist yet. In new developments, the ramps for handicapped access are put in but the sidewalks themselves aren’t …

      We have a lot of work to do.

      This image from 2008 that shows roaming ranges is pretty telling as well …

  2. Utah Movers September 9, 2010 at 23:03

    I think it would be so nice for kids to get that little bit of extra exercise! They seem so sleepy when they get to school these days, maybe a walk would help out a lot!



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