Study: Communities Get Extra Mileage from "Walk to School Day"

Assessment of the National Walk Our Children to School Day program

In May 2002, White Mountain Research Associates in Plainsboro, N.J., produced a preliminary evaluation report on the "Walk to School Day Program," a national initiative supporting a day for children to walk to school with parents and community leaders.

Key Findings

White Mountain reported the following findings and recommendations to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):

  • Walk to School Day is not a one-day event. Communities are using it as an opportunity to promote related issues including environmental change, physical activity and safety.
  • Communities can launch Walk to School Day with little or no funding.
  • Although the initiative appears to be expanding significantly, national sponsors and local coordinators say that their greatest challenges are the lack of both resources and a single entity that could serve as a coordinator and clearinghouse at the national level.
  • Community-based coordination tends to be preferable to school-based efforts.
  • A central agency should serve as a coordinator of the program, providing communication and marketing at both national and local levels.
  • A Web site should be developed as a clearinghouse for materials, information and resources.
  • Communities should integrate health and safety issues to form a stronger basis for Walk to School Day.

Funding

RWJF provided $42,229 from November 2001 to May 2002 to support the project.