Christy Smith“I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."

- Jesse Owens

This quote from Olympian Jesse Owens reminds me of being child. As a child, when you run or ride your bicycle you know you are in charge.  It’s up to you how fast you fly down that hill; and you just know you can fly if only your legs will go fast enough! Do you remember the first time you rode your bicycle to school?  Or around the neighbourhood, to a friend’s house on the next block? I do.  I remember the sense of freedom that I felt. When I rode my bicycle to school I felt like I was the most important thing on the road. That child-like sense of freedom can be found again as an adult if you just get back out on the road; and what better time to try than back to school?

There are many benefits to walking or riding to school. Students who walk one mile to and from school get two-thirds of recommended levels of physical activity. Walking to school helps children to be more physically active throughout the day. Physically active children tend to have better academic achievement, enhanced concentration and better classroom behavior.

As children across the country head back to school, consider walking or riding instead of taking the car. Start a walking school bus in your neighbourhood.  If your mornings are just too busy for this, try walking home after school. Or take a trip back to the school yard in the evening to enjoy the playground. 

If there are other barriers in your community like lack of sidewalks or unsafe walking conditions the Safe Routes Partnership has wealth of information on their website. The Getting Started page includes helpful links, a PowerPoint presentation and specifics on how to use the Five E's of Safe Routes to School to build your program. You can also go to – Simple Steps to Get Started with Safe Routes to School Resources and Information for Schools – for more information on starting your Safe Routes to School program. If you would like more information about Safe Routes to School in Tennessee, contact me at