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Supported by four federal ministries, the environmental department, numerous federal cultural ministries, institutes for the further education of teachers, the police, local school departments and others, the FUSS-association’s information campaign reached more than quarter of a million parents and teachers in the years 2002 and 2003.
That made it the widest national public-relations-campaign worldwide. Germany’s leading position is held by Hamburg, where the goals of the „Hamburg educational agenda for sustainable development“ were attained and 100 schools and kindergardens took part of different activities. Leaflets were distributed to almost all first-year-pupils in Berlin, Bremen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Rhineland-Palatinate, Lower Saxony and Thuringia. Additionally schools from 500 German cities participated in the campaign.
National starting day for the worldwide campaign
„I walk to school“ in Germany.
Coordination for Germany: FUSS e.V. expert`s forum for pedestrian traffic Germany
Information international: www.iwalktoschool.org
At the request of the schools and school-departments the start of the campaign will again be shifted to September 22nd. Thus it will be possible for all the Bundeslaender to place the activities before the beginning of the autumn-holidays. The date has been deliberately adapted to the „European car-free day“ in order to display the thematical interrelation.
Coordination for Germany: FUSS e.V. , expert’s forum for pedestrian traffic Germany, supported with means from the environmental ministry (BMU), the federal environmental department and the ministry of traffic (BMVBW).
A leaflet to be read and read out aloud for parents and children, addresses to teachers and parents, advice for activities and background information can be obtained from
1. Is the state of health of schoolchildren such a general problem?
According to a statement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) of spring 2002 2 Million men die for lack of exercise per year. According to WHO 40% of the children of primary schools have a weak circulation or low blood pressure. The number of overweight school beginners has doubled in Germany in recent ten years. An investigation made on behalf of the Federal Government substantiated the thesis of lack of exercise: 60% of the examined children had bad or weak posture, 30% overweight, 40% were suffering from weak circulation and with approximately 35% of them muscle weakness and coordination problems had to be diagnosed. The motor nerve performance with children in the age of four to six years has dropped by 15% during the last 15 years.
2. Haven’t the children primarily to be guarded against the polluted air outside?
Yes, but more basically by reduction in the share of road traffic in the cities; especially by reduction in short drives which ways to school are as a rule. Besides, the air in the car often is even worse than on the pavement. Measurements resulted in a 40 to 60% higher carbon monoxide and nitrogen concentration in the interior of the car than on the pavement.
3. Isn’t walking extremely dangerous for children to day?
Right, therefore it is important to reduce and to slow down the road traffic in the cities.
4. Isn’t my child first safer in the car than on foot?
No, the road safety is not at all higher in the car. The share of the children of primary schools having an accident as a passenger in a car is increasing for years and was already 32% in 2000. Nearly 60% of all killed children up to an age of 6 years and 46% of all 6 to 10 years old children died in a car in 2000.
5. Aren’t motorists having children on board particularly circumspect?
A police check carried out in Berlin in 2000 showed that 75% of the stopped speeders were parents with schoolchildren on board. Otherwise check this at your own school.
6. Isn’t it more intelligent to have my child going to school when it is a bit older and more experienced?
This is demonstrably a wrong approach: This way the accidents will merely be postponed. Already today the peak of on the way to school accidents shows up with the nine to ten years old children. Besides, something similar is to be noticed with cycling. The peak of accidents shows up with the twelve to fourteen years old children when they have passed their cycling examination and it becomes a matter of routine (like with young drivers).
7. Hasn’t my child to reckon on molestations especially by older children on his way to school?
At first you will go to school together with your child finding out how much you have to reckon on molestations. Thereafter your child will possibly go to school together with other children. The public safety is increasing if as many people as possible are on the pavement. All in all, you are not able to guard your child against unpleasant contacts with others; dealing with that is a part of socialization.
8. Schoolbags are heavy to day; there is no secure place to put them in the school. Is my child to get a crooked back?
In the enrolment class this is normally no problem at all. Thereafter your child should be able to carry a comfortable rucksack of justifiable load. If you consider the weight of the books unacceptable this should not lead you to the parents` taxi but to the solution of the cause. Address this during the next parent-teacher meeting.
9. Does the escorting mobility make a remarkable part of the traffic events at all?
Escorting by grown-ups has increased enormously. While at the beginning of the Seventieth 91 % of the first-year pupils went the way to school alone or together with other children these were only 17% in 2000. In Great Britain the share of ways to school by car increased from 10 to 35% during the last 20 years whereas the portion of walking dropped from 80 to 60%. In Germany the object „Picking up and taking of persons„ is listed as an own category in the survey „Kontiv 2002 - Mobilität in Deutschland„ for the first time: In households with small childs approximately 25% of the distances covered result from escorting. Nationwide meanwhile the purpose of every tenth way is escorting but the share of walks is only half as much (8%) as of drives (16%).
10. Would the renunciation of such drives actually have a remarkable positive environmental impact?
Yes, of course. 22% of the carbon dioxide emissions resulted from the motorized private transport in 2000 and this is increasing for years. Very specific: Given a 2 kilometres way to school and 200 school days a year per schoolchild 160 kilograms carbon dioxide less will be blown into the air.
„Zu Fuß zur Schule und zum Kindergarten„ is a cooperative action of the federal ministry of the environment, nature conservation and reactor safety (BMU); the federal environment office (UBA); the federal ministry of transport, building and housing (BMVBW); the federal ministry of health and social affairs (BMGS); the federal ministry of family, seniors, women and youth (BMFSFJ) and of FUSS e.V. Fachverband Fußverkehr Deutschland.
On Foot to school and kindergarten
I walk to school
1994 - An action week was started on this subject for the first time in Great Britain in which only a few schools participated. FUSS e. V. carried out a public campaign at the time of enrolment in all German federal states having as a motto „Experience what happens on the way to school instead if driving past“.
1995 - The Pedestrian Association organized their first own „walk to school week“ and expanded the initiative all across Great Britain.
1996 - Two big organisations merged in Great Britain and carried out the „walk to school week“ during the children’s health week.
1997 - The association for a „wanderable“ America organized so called „Marches to School“. In Great Britain the „walk to school week“ was scheduled on the mid of May.
1998 - Great Britain, the USA and for the first time also Canada actively took part in the „walk to school week“.
1999 - Ireland and New Zealand joined and the participation increased to 44 schools in New Zealand, 250 schools in Canada, 525 schools in the USA, and 10.000 schools in Great Britain.
2000 - The first international day „Walk to School“ was set for October 4th. Canada, Great Britain, the USA, Ireland, Cyprus, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man participated. Actions spread over the total year took place in Australia and New Zealand. In Germany the education authority and FUSS e. V. started the campaign „The way to school without car is nice“ supported by local sponsors in Hamburg as a model case with the aim to be able to extend these activities all over Germany. On occasion of the Europe-wide „Car-free Day“ approximately 20.000 parents and pupils were approached in Hamburg on September 22.
2001 - The second international day took place with still greater success. Three million people in 21 countries went to school on foot. In Germany the campaign „Schulweg ohne Auto ist schön“ was extended to the information and participation of approximately 50.000 parents in Hamburg only.
2002 - Germany participated in the international day „Zu Fuß zur Schule - I walk to school“ for the first time with a broad information campaign. Due to the promotion by the federal environment ministry and the federal environment office and the support by the ministries of transport, family, and health on federal level, by seven ministries of education and cultural affairs of federal states and more than 250 municipal education authorities the so far only model case activities in Hamburg could be extended to large parts of Germany. In the period of the enrolment in the federal states from July until October 2nd approximately a half million Parents and teachers were contacted. Besides leafs for reading and lecture for parents and children letters to teachers, invitations to parent-teacher meetings and an extensive background brochure were produced. A survey addressing parents and children was made in Hamburg in order enable a judgement on the activities carried out over three years. Though the campaign was not directed to demonstrations or actions a lot of schools took part by class activities at the international day. The actions in Brühl, Hamburg, Karlsruhe and Velbert are to be emphasized for example.
2003 - By request of the persons involved FUSS e.V. extended the campaign into kindergartens. Due to promotion by the federal environment ministry, the federal environment office, and for the first time the ministry of transport many inquiries for informations could be answered. Schools in around 500 German cities took part in the October 2nd 2003. The federal state Hamburg again was the front-runner where the objective of the „Hamburger Bildungsagenda für nachhaltige Entwicklung“ could be reached with the participation of 100 schools and kindergartens.
The objective of the action is varying from country to country. Some go out into the streets for more safety in the road traffic, some emphasize health aspects, and others the environmental care. Whatever the reasons are the promotion of a world friendly to pedestrians is at stake. (From the self-projection „I walk to school“ in the Internet) Action days on specific topics are helpful in as far as they can bring a certain continuity into the work. But they shouldn’t restrict as the critics of „Mother’s“ day rightly say. Therefore FUSS e.V. Has expanded the period of action from the date of enrolment in the federal states beginning July beyond the action day of September 22nd.
Bernd Herzog-Schlagk, translation Wolfgang Koch and Manfred Bernard