Chester County, PA – In honor of International Walk to School Day, hundreds of students from West Vincent Elementary and St. Patrick School gathered at assigned meeting points where they walked to school with the staff members from the Transportation Management Association of Chester County (TMACC), the Chester County District Attorney’s Safe Routes to School Program, the Chester County Health Department, teachers, and local officials this morning.
The idea to participate started with two key parents from both schools. TMACC’s Manager of Transportation Operations and Planning, John Meisel, has two children at St. Patrick School and walks them to school regularly. Meisel stated, “My kids love when I can walk them to school, it’s a great chance to bond with them while getting in some quick exercise. I thought this would be a great opportunity to show other students how fun it is to walk.” Samantha McQuillan, who has a child at West Vincent Elementary School said, “I wanted to do a walk to school day since last year. When TMACC Board Chairman, Chris Williams, who also has children here [West Vincent], came to me offering help from TMACC and Safe Routes to School, I contacted Principal Ed Smith right away to get the ball rolling.”
Principal Ed Smith of West Vincent already has students walking to school, but their school has not participated in the holiday before, “This is a great opportunity for our students who walk to learn how to safely walk to school, as well as encourage others to begin walking.”
International Walk to School Day is an energizing event, reminding everyone of the simple joy of walking to school, the health benefits of regular daily activity, and the need for safe places to walk and bike. Schools focus on health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment. Other organizations supporting International Walk to School Day in the United States include America Walks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Safe Kids Worldwide, and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Principal Patricia O’Donnell of St. Patrick School, who is also new to celebrating International Walk to School Day as well, is already planning for another organized walk to school day in the spring: “The students loved coming together before school to walk. We’re hoping to organize another walk once the weather gets warmer.”
TMACC is a non-profit organization whose goal is to improve air quality through congestion mitigation strategies, such as promoting public transportation, walking, and biking as a form of transportation. The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program are sustained efforts by parents, schools, community leaders and local, state, and federal governments to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school.
If you are interested in getting your school involved in International Walk to School Day next year, please contact Lorie Aguilera from Safe Routes to School at firstname.lastname@example.org.