By Karen Sheehan, MD
Although it takes me nearly an hour, I like to walk to work. In fact, it’s often the favorite part of my day. I cut through Lincoln Park and watch the leaves change with the seasons. I say hello to the dog walkers, the doormen and the nuns who put their mail in the box near the Cardinal’s home. (I put my mail there too, just in case the nuns get preferential treatment for fast and efficient mail service; so far it seems to be working). Walking promotes a sense of joy, increases physical activity and builds a sense of community.
The reason I have walking on the brain is because today is International Walk to School Day!
Now, it goes without saying that we want to keep kids safe, while promoting the benefits of walking. That’s why Lurie Children’s Safe Kids Chicago Collation will be out at schools in Bellwood, Illinois today, modeling safe pedestrian behavior for students, teachers and invited guests.
The Village of Bellwoods’s Director of Public Safety will provide pedestrian safety tips such as:
- When crossing the street, put down electronic devices and pay attention.
- Cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
These are great tips, but I believe the most effective intervention we can offer our children is modeling safe pedestrian behaviors ourselves. Try to pick a day — even if it isn’t October 8 — when you can walk with your children and show them the safest routes to school or around the neighborhood . We sometimes forget that the world looks different from a 10-year-old child’s point of view. Street corners that we have no trouble navigating, may be confusing to a youngster. Helping them figure it out, or identifying a different route, will help keep your children safe to enjoy the thing they do best — have fun.