International Walk to School Day focuses on safety

October 03, 2011

Children’s Medical Center (www.childrens.com) and the Safe Kids Dallas Area Coalition will join local school children and FedEx volunteers on Wednesday morning to raise awareness about pedestrian safety for International Walk to School Day.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Children’s Medical Center, Safe Kids Dallas, FedEx and community leaders from the City of Dallas will walk with children to Felix G. Botello Elementary School at 225 S. Marsalis in Dallas to advocate for safer walking environments. An estimated 50 volunteers walking to the school will identify unsafe intersections, streets needing sidewalks and dangerous areas where pedestrians have been struck or nearly injured by vehicles.

The annual event – which draws at least 400 schools nationwide and more than 250,000 children across the U.S. – aims to teach children about walking safely and encourages creating safe pedestrian environments.

“International Walk to School Day is the perfect opportunity for students to learn how to remain injury-free as they walk to and from school,” said Kristen Beckworth, program coordinator of Children’s Medical Center’s Department of Injury Prevention and a member of Safe Kids Dallas Area Coalition. During the event, she said, “parents and caregivers both teach and model safe pedestrian behavior.”

Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for children ages 3 to 14, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Last year, Children’s Medical Center treated 117 victims who were struck by vehicles, while the hospital has treated 86 children for such injuries so far this year. Three of those children died last year, while five have died so far this year.

Nationwide, more than 13,000 children 14 years old and younger went to emergency rooms across the country with pedestrian-related injuries in 2009, while 244 of those children died in such incidents. But the good news is the number of child pedestrians hurt in traffic crashes is decreasing in the U.S.

Volunteers on Wednesday will teach children how to be safer as they walk to and from school and while playing outside. Reflective gear and pedestrian safety activity books will be given away. The events will continue until 10 a.m. as Botello Elementary School second graders gather outside for a short presentation before practicing safe walking with their teachers and the volunteers in a parade led by the Dallas Police Department around the school.

Safe Kids USA also will host a photo contest on Facebook, searching for winning images that best represent children walking to school safely. The school submitting the winning photo will receive a $5,000 prize and a visit from Sesame Street’s Grover. The prize money will be used to further promote safe walking in the Dallas area through environmental changes and educational interventions. 

About Children’s Medical Center
Children's Medical Center is a private, not-for-profit system and is the seventh largest pediatric healthcare provider in the country with 559 licensed beds, two full-service campuses and 10 outpatient sites. Children’s was the state’s first pediatric hospital to achieve Level 1 Trauma status and is the only pediatric teaching facility in North Texas, affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center. For more information about Children’s, please visit www.childrens.com.