Hardin Park School will celebrate International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct 7, with a Walk or Bike to School event.

The celebration of International Walk to School Day is part of a larger partnership between Hardin Park School, the Appalachian District Health Department, the town of Boone, Boone Police Department, Watch For Me NC and Active Routes to School, a Safe Routes to School project in North Carolina.

The goal of the partnership is to increase student health, as well as pedestrian and biker safety to and from school.

In 1969, 48 percent of children in the U.S. walked or biked to school, and only 12 percent were driven to school, according to school officials. In 2009, 40 years later, those numbers had almost reversed to 13 percent of children walked or biked and 44 percent were driven to school (NC DOT, 2009).

Walking and biking to school in a safe environment promotes physical activity, improves the environment, and is linked to improved academic outcomes, officials said. International Walk to School Day draws attention to these issues, as well as highlights possible solutions.

Appalachian District Health Department Allied Health Director Jennifer Greene said that the project will serve both Hardin Park School and the surrounding community.

“In addition to providing more opportunities for the students to be physically active, we also want this project to increase knowledge of bike and pedestrian safety among school personnel and the larger community served by the school,” Greene said.

The Hardin Park School event will begin at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union at 7:05 a.m.; students riding their bikes will leave the parking lot at 7:15 a.m., and students walking will leave the parking lot at 7:20 a.m.

Students will be walking from their homes and from a remote drop-off point.

“As always, be particularly aware of bikers and pedestrians on Oct. 7, and yield to them in crosswalks. It’s the law,” school officials said.

To learn more about Watch For Me NC, visit http://www.watchformenc.org/.

To learn more about Safe Routes to School in North Carolina, visit http://saferoutespartnership.org/state/srts-in-your-state/northcarolina.

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