Walking To School . . .
As a child growing up in a borough of New York City, I walked to school during my junior high and high school tenures, even though the walk was about 2 miles each way on the average. I preferred to spend the money my parents gave me for the bus on a daily pack of chocolate & peanut butter Yodels (remember those) and small carton of milk. Long walks are a joy to me, and is a practice I've carried into my adult life. I am certain that this lifelong practice has been a great contributor to my good health.
New York City is a walker's paradise. However, since my move to the southwestern US, it has been more of a challenge to walk daily as the cities here are generally not pedestrian friendly. Sidewalks are typically empty, and public transportation scarce. Everybody drives, and the obesity rates in this area are a reflection of that.
With that in mind, I was delighted to read a story in the International section of the March 27, 2009 New York Times about a city in Italy where school bus routes to ten elementary schools are being replaced with walking routes. Former bus drivers and volunteers escort the children by foot to school each morning along the former bus routes. The change was made to combat growing childhood obesity rates and car emission pollution. What a wonderful idea! Developing a habit of walking can provide long-term health benefits and reduces pollution. I am certain many of our cities can benefit from similar programs as well.