International Walk to School Day Celebrates Safety and Good Health
Today, I had the good fortune of joining students from East Silver Spring Elementary School in Maryland as they walked and biked to school in celebration of International Walk to School Day. I want to thank Principal Morrow and the entire ESS community for welcoming me so enthusiastically. Walk to School Day is a great opportunity for me to spend time with parents, kids, and teachers and to showcase our Safe Routes to School program and First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. As a father, grandfather and former schoolteacher, I know how important it is that we provide students with safe options for getting to school while promoting exercise and healthy lifestyles. That's why I've embraced the Safe Routes to School program so wholeheartedly since becoming Secretary of Transportation. Simply, Safe Routes works to ensure that children have a safe way to walk or bike to school. And that dovetails perfectly with the First Lady's goals of increasing physical activity among kids and reversing childhood obesity.
You know, we're looking at an increasingly sedentary generation of children. One out of every three kids in America is now overweight or obese. And this has costs that will reverberate for all of us--from the kids who grow up to endure the medical complications of obesity, through the health care system, and all the way to the employers who will have to manage their sick days and the nation's economy which will suffer from lost productivity. It's not a sustainable situation, and I admire the First Lady's efforts to end this within a generation. Safe Routes to School is a natural partner for Let's Move. For more than 10 years, Safe Routes has been making it easier for students to walk and bike from home to school. And ESS, where I walked today, was one of the earliest schools to participate. We know this program has been enormously effective because the steady decline, since 1969, in the number of kids walking or biking to school has been stabilized. And as we made our way down the street this morning I was reminded yet again of this program's extraordinary work. Look, walking and biking to school is good for students' health. It's good for the environment. And it's good for the entire community's quality of life. I saw that today in East Silver Spring. You can see it in nearby Takoma Park in the news clip above. And we have seen it across the country. Everybody wins when kids take Safe Routes to School.