SPOKANE, Wash. – Oct 4, 2011 – Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is joining Sunset Elementary and Otis Orchards Elementary in celebrating International Walk to School Day on October 5, 2011.        

Both schools are committed to walking and rolling to school on Wednesday, along with parents, teachers and community leaders. Walk to School events work to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, concern for the environment and building connections between families, schools and the broader community. Media are invited to attend either school’s celebration of the event. 

In Airway Heights, at Sunset Elementary in the Cheney School District, they have received almost $250,000 in U.S. Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School funding. The money went toward building new sidewalks and safer intersections for crossing. Tomorrow, in celebration of the upgrades, two large groups of students will walk to school in unison carrying banners.     

Otis Orchards Elementary, part of East Valley School District, is celebrating several improvements honoring the safety of children walking and biking to school, as well as those children being picked up by parents. The upgrades were encouraged by parents as part of a Safe Routes to School walk audit facilitated by SRHD. Highlights include a student-led crossing guard program using national Safe Routes to School training materials, with collaborative training by Principal Suzanne Savall, PTA members and the Sheriff Community Oriented Policing Effort (SCOPE) program. Additionally, FedEx, and local ambulance and police crews will be on hand to commemorate the event.     

To further address the recommendations of the Otis community walk audit and to lessen traffic congestion, Principal Savall implemented a new walking policy. First through sixth graders now cross at Arden Road, in front of the school, then walk along the sidewalk to meet their parents or guardians picking them up. Parents are encouraged to park and walk toward the school to meet their children. Drivers will also enter and exit the designated parking lot in a more efficient manner. An adult crossing guard will supervise students crossing at the parking lot entrance.     

Additionally, Spokane County Sherriff’s deputy Craig Chamberlin will be at Otis Orchards Elementary, and SRHD health program specialist Natalie Tauzin will be at Sunset Elementary, spreading the word about Stickman Knows, the health district’s educational campaign aimed at reducing pedestrian, bicyclist and motorist collisions. Both will hand out free Stickman Knows tattoos and reflective stickers for helmets.     

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only 13 percent of children walk to school today, compared with 66 percent in 1970. Not to mention the fact that 50 percent of students living within ½ mile of school are being driven to school. In turn, 10 percent of adolescents in Spokane County in 2010 were obese and another 13 percent were overweight. Obesity and lack of activity contribute to chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.     

If you have questions about how you can participate, contact Natalie Tauzin, by emailing More information is also available at SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community.

About International Walk to School Day    

  • Walk to School Day was established in the United States in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America. Canada and Great Britain already had walk to school programs in place.  In 2000, these three countries joined together to create International Walk to School Day.
  • In the U.S., International Walk to School Day is expected to be celebrated at over 3,500 events at participating schools. Walkers from the U.S. will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world.
  • In May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School was established to assist communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bike to school.
  • The National Center for Safe Routes to School serves as the national coordinating agency for Walk to School activities in the USA.
  • Walk to School Day began as a simple idea – children and parents, school and local officials walking to school together on a designated day. It 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.
  • Organizations supporting International Walk to School Day in the U.S. 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 Bicycling and Walking, 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.