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DOWNEY - For the first time, the Downey Unified School District is participating in International Walk to School Day this Wednesday, Oct. 9, a global effort that encourages students to increase their physical activity by walking to school.
Launched in 1997, the event also raises awareness about the need for walkable communities.
Downey schools are participating this year as part of the "Healthy Downey" initiative started by Mayor Mario Guerra last December.
"I'm excited to work in cooperating with the Downey Unified School District to advocate for simple lifestyle choices that enhance our community's well-being," Guerra said. "The basic act of walking or bicycling to school can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution while fostering a fantastic sense of community."
Thousands of schools in the U.S. and in 40 countries are scheduled to participate Wednesday.
DUSD officials said that by walking or bicycling to school, students "better appreciate their neighborhood surroundings, enjoy greater independence, and embrace healthier habits through physical activity."
Also, "when vehicle pollutants are reduced, everyone enjoys a cleaner and more wholesome environment."
"There is an added economic benefit to local businesses when students, parents and guardians use community sidewalks," added school board members Barbara Samperi, Nancy Swenson and Martha Sodetani in a joint statement issued by DUSD.
According to Downey resident and bicycle advocate Lars Clutterham, an estimated 40 percent of Downey children are overweight.
He added that only 13 percent of kids nationwide walk or ride their bikes to schools, down from 50 percent in 1969.
For more information about Walk to School Day in Downey, go online to dusd.net or Facebook.com/downeyusd.
Published: Oct. 3, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 25