Why kids don’t walk and what we can do about it

I hated walking as a kid and would beg my mom to drive me places.

“You can walk,” she’d say and then explain how when SHE was a girl she had to WALK 100 miles just to get to the bus stop…”

Okay, I exaggerate a little, but I truly hated walking. Other kids got rides. Why do I have to walk?

Now, I’m grateful.

Truth is, kids don’t walk unless they have to and it seems like kids walk less and less with each generation. There are several reasons for this:

1) Kids live further away from school.
2) Residential neighborhoods are isolated from grocery stores and services.
3) Madison streets are busier than the streets I grew up on.
4) We love our  cars.
5) Parents are afraid their kids will get abducted, lost, or hurt. This is the most troubling trend and probably the most restricting.

For the most part, Madison remains a safe place for  kids. However, while many of our families live close enough to the center to walk, very few do. For many it’s a necessity to drive, but for some it isn’t. What’s especially troubling is when parents cancel their kids participation in outdoor activities because they cannot pick their kids up.

To address this I ask?  Why not let older kids walk or take the bus home?
What a gift it would be for these kids to get home on their own.

Therefore, I’m going to start making this outrageous suggestion. This will likely raise other issues. For example, will kids need to be taught how to walk on their own? Probably. At the very least it will get parents and kids thinking about alternatives.

Will kids protest?  Absolutely.  But I can’t wait to respond with my own “When I was a kid I walked 100 miles story.”

Do you have any stories about walking with kids?  How do you  motivate  kids to walk?  Do you let them walk to the store, to  school or elsewhere?

You can find Diane working on a grant proposal to start a biking program at the Goodman Community Center. You can also find her slopping through the mud at Schumacher Farm County Park looking for signs of spring. As always, register for this blog now and receive an 11-page Bubble Activity Guide.

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