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By Michael Henrich

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Oct. 8, 2014) — Dozens of Indiana school communities will promote active lifestyles by taking part Wednesday in National Walk-To-School Day.

Advocates claim walking and biking to school provides physical, social and academic benefits to children.

While statistics show about 50 percent of students walked or biked to school in 1969, roughly 13 percent do either today.

Westfield’s Oak Trace Elementary School has participated in the movement for three years and had more than 300 participants in 2013.

Oak Trace’s walkers will meet up around 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Countryside Clubhouse on 169th Street to head to school as a large group.

“There’s always safety in numbers,” Westfield Police Capt. Charles Hollowell said about walking to school.  “Walking to school is a safe way to get to school.”

Still, Hollowell said families need to take precautions if deciding to allow their kids to walk to school on a regular basis.

“Consider the route they’re going to take, the construction that you actually have, the speed limits on the roads they’re actually going to go [on and] if they have sidewalks that are available for the kids to walk,” he said.

Appropriate clothing is also a consideration, Hollowell said.

“In the wintertime, 6 o’clock in the morning it’s dark outside,” he said.  “So are they going to be visible?  What clothing do they have on that’s going to make them [reflective] or make sure they’re  visible to motorists?”