Wednesday is International Walk to School Day - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wednesday is International Walk to School Day

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington State Department of Transportation says it expects about 20,000 students, parents, teachers and community leaders across the state to take part in International Walk to School Day on Wednesday. 

On October 9th, the DOT says "walk to school" events will take place to encourage students to explore walking and biking to school rather than driving.

The Transportation Department says it supports these efforts as part of Safe Routes to School, an ongoing program that encourages walking and bicycling throughout the year. Safe Routes to School provides state and federal funds for technical assistance and resources to cities, counties, schools, school districts and state agencies. 

WSDOT's Safe Routes to Schools grant program has awarded $55 million for 140 projects across the state since 2005. The program funds projects that improve safety for children walking and bicycling to school. The program has also provided safety education and training to approximately 25 school districts and more than 10,000 children in fifth through eighth grades. 

In a show of support, Kathleen Davis, WSDOT Highways & Local Programs director, will participate in Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School's Walk to School Day event in Tumwater. Other Washington schools have events planned to draw attention to the many benefits of walking and bicycling to school. 

"These types of events provide an opportunity to demonstrate safe walking and biking while promoting physical activity," said Davis. "We're investing in sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian islands and other safety features that make walking safer and more convenient for children to get to and from school." 

Some 3,200 schools from all 50 states are expected to participate in International Walk to School Month. Walkers from the U.S. will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world.

The U.S. participated in its first Walk to School celebration in 1997 to bring community leaders and children together to build awareness about walkable communities.

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