Thousands of Maine children will walk or bike to school with family members, school staff and volunteers in celebration of International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Organized events are planned at schools across the state throughout October, which is International Walk and Bike to School Month, and some schools will continue holding events throughout the fall.

Camden-Rockport Middle School will hold such a day on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Parents, teachers and volunteers have organized events throughout the state such as “walking school buses” (children walking in groups under adult supervision) and “bike trains” (groups bicycling under adult supervision). Participating schools are located from York to Northeast Harbor and Camden to Greenville, as well as many points in between.

“Each year, more and more schools are getting involved in encouraging children to begin the habit of walking and biking safely to school,” said Nancy Grant, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, in a news release.

Maine’s federally funded Safe Routes to School Program – a program of the Maine Department of Transportation, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and communities throughout the state – supports local efforts to improve safety and increase walking and bicycling to school. In addition, many schools participate in presentations from the Maine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Program. These presentations, available at no cost to interested schools, have been recognized as national models for keeping children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school.

Since Maine’s Safe Routes to School Program began, more than 150 schools have become involved. Using federal funds, more than 50 communities have been approved for infrastructure improvements to make walking and biking safer near schools.

“These federally funded safety improvements have been extremely helpful in creating safer pedestrian and bicycle travel around schools in communities throughout the state,” said Dan Stewart, MaineDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian program manager.

Two of the major goals of the Safe Routes to School Program are improved safety and increased physical activity to fight childhood obesity. In addition, Walk and Bike to School programs help to ease traffic congestion, boost academic performance, improve classroom behavior, improve air quality and save school districts money on busing costs.

For more information or details about the Oct. 5 events, call 623-4511.