Do you have primary aged school kids at home? How do they get to school every day? This Friday, the 18th of May, children across Australia are being challenged to take some important steps towards a healthier future by participating in National Walk Safely to School Day.
National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long-term well-being of our children. Apart from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on their cognitive and academic performance.
The annual event, now in its 19th year, encourages primary school aged children to build walking into their daily routine, by walking to and from school – not just on Friday 18 May, but every day.
Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia said: “The extremely disturbing childhood obesity epidemic continues to affect 1 in 4 children at critical levels across Australia.”
“Unless teachers, parents, carers and the community generally get behind this event and its objectives, it is expected that numbers will reach 1 in 3 by 2020. The best exercise for all of us is regular walking. Children require at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity. We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day”, he said.
The national initiative also promotes improved diets (by asking schools and P&Cs to Host a Healthy Breakfast), positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and the vitally important road safety message: “Until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road”.
ACT Police, Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations Marcus Boorman also said “Road safety is everybody’s responsibility and as such, I encourage the Canberra community to get behind National Walk Safely to School Day. Educating our children on the importance of pedestrian safety is one of the best ways to keep young people safe around traffic. Remember, Stop, Look, Listen and Think before crossing the road.”
It also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, while minimising the risk of Australian children developing heart disease and diabetes. As it is not feasible for some families to walk the entire distance from home to school, this year they are also promoting the #parkandstride initiative – park further away from the gates than you normally would and stride in the rest of the way.
National Walk Safely to School Day is on Friday 18 May 2018, taking place in all primary schools across Australia – check with your school for any planned activities for the morning.