Thousands of Riverside County students, staff and families will take part in International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 10 as a way to support a healthier lifestyle.

The one-day event is part of a worldwide effort to celebrate the many health benefits of walking and biking to school, and to encourage families to park the minivan and embrace healthy changes that will last year-round.

International Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. It began in 1997 as a one-day event. Over time, this event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation – each October. Today, thousands of schools across America – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – participate every October.

“This is just one day, but we are hopeful the community will see the benefits of walking and biking to school and make it an everyday habit,” said Kim Saruwatari, director for Riverside University Health System – Public Health (RUHS-PH), which coordinates the international program locally.

Thousands of students, parents and community-based volunteers from throughout Riverside County will form “walking school buses” in which groups of children, parents and volunteers will walk to school together.

International Walk to School Day kicks off a yearlong effort to create sustainable walking and biking programs to improve fitness, air quality and traffic flow around schools which increases student safety.

The international event is coordinated by the Safe Routes to School program at RUHS-PH and is sponsored by a combination of public agencies, police departments, city governments and community organizations.

Elementary schools in the Desert Sands Unified School District, Coachella Valley Unified School District, and Palm Springs Unified School will participate. Click here for a complete list of participating schools.

For more information on the Safe Routes to School program, visit online here and on Facebook here.