Gov. Jay Inslee joined staff from Seattle Children’s Research Institute this morning as they lead a group of West Seattle children in a “walking school bus.”
A walking school bus is an organized group of children who walk to school together each day while supervised by an adult. Jason Mendoza, MD, MPH, is leading a study in partnership with Seattle Public Schools, to determine whether obesity can be prevented with activities that were common during eras when obesity was less prevalent.
“Decades ago children were more likely to walk to school and obesity rates were much lower,” Mendoza said. “I want to find out whether encouraging children to walk or ride their bike to school might increase their overall physical activity.”
Inslee joined this morning’s walk to West Seattle Elementary to show his support of the program and encourage kids to stay active. The governor is supporting walking to school as part of his “Healthiest Next Generation” initiative.
Inslee encouraged the kids to walk whenever possible, play sports and read often. When they reached the school, every child got a high-five and an autograph.
The walking school buses are part of a five year study funded by the National Cancer Institute. Six schools are currently participating, with six more to be added next school year and another six the year after that. Researchers lead groups of students as they walk to and from school each day. They measure the children’s height and weight at the beginning and end of each school year and have the children wear accelerometers around their waists to measure their physical activity. The results will be compared to kids from schools where walking school buses were not organized.
“If this helps kids to be more physically active or reach a healthy body weight, it could convince school districts and other organizations to oversee walking school buses in more and more areas, including low-income neighborhoods that often do not have such programs,” Mendoza said.
If you are a member of the media and would like to arrange an interview with Dr. Jason Mendoza please contact Seattle Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.