Walk to School Day reaches its 20th Anniversary


This year is the 20th edition of International Walk to School Day. The event started in 1997 as a way to encourage people to find a safe route to school while protecting the environment. Over 4,000 people were registered to participate this year, including people from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, D.C. and over thirty other countries. Locally, the event is not heavily promoted, even though many students walk to school each day.

Environmental Science and Honors Biology teacher Patricia Tierney is also the sponsor of the Environmental Club. She discusses the issues of increasing car use and making cities more environmentally friendly with her students and the members of Environmental Club.

[Walk to School Day] serves to educate the public about the importance of reducing car use and improving walking and biking options.  [Also] by specifying a day and time for participation, it fosters a sense of community,” Tierney said.

Tierney believes that Walk to School Day is beneficial to communities and should be advertised more at WJ.

I don’t think most people know it exists.  In the future I will suggest that the Environmental Club become involved in the promotion of this event,” Tierney said.

Junior Jessica Kaplan participated in Walk to School Day and occasionally walks to or from school.

“I believe Walk to School Day is important because not only does it ensure that students have a safe way to get to school, but also saves the environment by using less fossil fuels,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is disappointed that the school does not do more to promote Walk to School Day.

“[The school] should at least make an announcement. None of the students even know about Walk to School Day, but it would be nice if people found out about it and wanted to participate,” Kaplan said.

WJ students have grown up in an era full of technological advances and many believe the students don’t understand the significance of Walk To School Day.

“Everyone nowadays takes cars and easy transportation for granted, but don’t think about what the future will look like if we rely on this technology too much and forget about the environment,” Kaplan said.

Tierney believes that since the first Walk to School Day in 1997, there have been good and bad environmental changes.

The good – many more people, especially students, are aware of the issues and have become involved in environmental activism. The bad – as environmental issues have been featured more prominently in the news, they have become more politicized,” Tierney said.

The popularity has decreased over the years, as the use of cars has increased. Many believe that Walk to School Day should be publicized more around schools, attempting to teach students an essential lesson.