International Walk to School Day A Lesson In Health Reform

Tyler Norris SoundbiteThere's a lesson to be learned on healthy habits that begins before the school bell rings this week: International Walk to School Day is Wednesday.

According to Tyler Norris, vice president of Kaiser Permanente's Total Health Partnerships, the goal is to teach kids and their families the health and environmental benefits of walking in their own communities.

"Walking to school is great for brain development of kids, so they perform better in school," Norris said. "And, walking as a parent with your kids to school, not only your own but with your neighbors' kids, allows you to connect more fully with your own and with neighbors and get to know them."

When more families walk to school, it also decreases neighborhood traffic congestion. Some neighborhoods have even started "walking school buses", where groups of kids walk together with a parent or volunteer.

Norris asserted that the calls are growing louder from health-care organizations, grassroots groups, and law enforcement for communities to make walking easier and safer.

"We need to invest in safe, walkable neighborhoods, support kids in being able to walk to school, support the ability to walk or bike to transit and transit to work," he said. "We need to help people build walking into their day."

And with so much focus these days on affordable health care, Norris said costs will inevitably go down if more Americans start moving.

"At a time when we're doing health care reform, it's vital we focus on health reform, and do what all of us can do to be healthier in the first place."

For more information about the campaign to get America walking check out: EverybodyWalk.org.