I cannot imagine a better way to begin Grandparents Day than by walking two of my grandkids, Ella and Henry, to school with my wife, Kathy. And to combine that with a schoolwide event at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Indianapolis celebrating Safe Routes to School is really a terrific bonus.
Ella, a 2nd grader, walked with my wife Kathy, my daughter Amy, her husband Kevin, and me. Henry, in kindergarten, rode along on his bike with training wheels. Together, we formed what is known in the Safe Routes community as a "walking school bus."
A walking school bus simply collects a small group of students with one or more adults on their walk to and from school. Typically, the students live near one another. Even if they already walk to school, the benefit of the walking school bus is that it provides a consistent, supervised system in which children can walk to school under the watchful eye of an adult.
I am so proud of Ella. When we arrived at school after our walk, we were met by several members of the press, and she handled herself like a champ with the media. I don't think Mayor Greg Ballard and Congressman Andre Carson, who joined our walk, got a word in between them. I've always said Ella's a force to be reckoned with.
The toughest media we faced were the school reporters, J.T. Malone and Hannah Gardner, and their editor, Emma Strenski. I look forward to reading their work in the next edition of the school paper.
Meanwhile, other kids from the school joined the "bicycle train," sort of a walking school bus on wheels. And, since I can't be in two places at once--I really wanted to!--today's special bike train guest was a great Safe Routes partner, Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.
You may have heard me and Andy on the air this week during the BicycleRadio.com broadcast Tuesday night. If you didn't, I encourage you to download a podcast of the internet radio show; there's been a lot of exciting developments lately regarding DOT and non-motorized ways of getting around, and that excitement made the show a lot of fun.
Later in the morning, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and I had the chance to help another Indianapolis school, St. Joan of Arc, launch its brand new Safe Routes to School program. It's a wonderful opportunity to help even more Indianapolis kids get out of their cars and enjoy some fitness and some fresh air by walking and biking to school.
Now, the great news about Safe Routes to School is that the steady decline in kids walking or biking to school since 1969 has stabilized. I wouldn't say we should be satisfied with the current levels, but this stabilization seems to indicate that national Safe Routes efforts are paying off.
This means better health for our kids, and that's consistent with First Lady Michelle Obama's nationwide Let's Move challenge to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity in America.
And, consistent with worldwide Earth Day celebrations, getting kids out of their family cars each morning and afternoon means less roadway congestion and reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with traffic.
Everybody wins when kids take Safe Routes to School. And on Grandparents' Day, the benefits spread even further. Thank you, Ella and Henry and St. Thomas Aquinas School, for inviting us to this special event. And thanks to everyone who helped put this together.
Now, it's springtime and the weekend is coming, so Let's Move!