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Our Opinion: Walking to school — with an assist from government

Walking to school is a laudable activity, but do we really need government to be involved?

Wednesday, in case you missed it, was International Walk to School Day, observed during October, designated as Walk to School Month.

In Missouri, walking to school is overseen by the Safe Routes to Schools program within the Missouri Department of Transportation, MoDOT. Jeff Cremer, the Safe Routes to School coordinator, may be reached at 573-526-2440.

You also can access MoDOT’s website — modot.mo gov — to “see who’s walking in your community.”

Jefferson City was not listed among the hosts of the 59 walking to school initiatives in Missouri.

Columbia — often perceived to be a step ahead of our community — boasts a number of walking initiatives, including the Walking School Bus program.

With the Walking School Bus, MoDOT explains, groups of children walk designated routes to school under adult supervision and pick up kids along the way just like a bus.

We wholeheartedly favor the concept of walking to school along a safe route.

What we question is whether government involvement — particularly at the state level — is necessary.

We recall — and we suspect many readers remember— walking to elementary school on a regular basis. (And, no, the route wasn’t 10 miles and it wasn’t uphill — both ways).

Our point is before the advent of international observances and government programs, walking to school was routine.

Even if we concede safety considerations have increased over the years, are tax-supported efforts at the state level justifiable?

We believe if government involvement is needed to find safe routes to schools, local districts are capable of identifying them.

An alternative would be engaging parent-teacher organizations to identify and organize various neighborhood routes.

Walking to school illustrates government’s obsession with being involved in nearly every human activity. Is it any wonder our nation’s continual descent into debt continues?

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