Friday the 22nd of May marks National Walk Safely to School Day – a day that encourages all primary school aged children to walk to and from school, not just on that day, but every day. The initiative is a way of developing exercising routines in children, promoting improved diets, positive environmental action through decreased dependency on cars and most importantly, familiarising children with important road safety rules such as “children aged 10 years or under must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road”.
60 minutes of exercise per day is recommended for all children, and this can easily be achieved by walking three times a day – two of which can be done purely by walking to school and walking home from school. This will go a long way in combating a growing obesity crisis that haunts young Australians today with at least one in every four children being overweight or obese and if this trend continues; it will increase to one in three by the year 2020.
Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia said that unless parents, teachers, carers and the community as a whole strive to push the positive messages that come out of this day, then the future of Australian children and their lifestyles does not look promising. Described as “the best exercise for all” by Mr Scruby, regular walking can be done at any time of the day and can often be achieved when running errands or other day to day tasks – the 60 minutes of required exercise per day is often fulfilled without one really realizing it.
Not only does WSTSD promote a healthy lifestyle and good habits within your child, it also limits the stress and worry that a parent often goes through when they send their child off to school. The absolutely extreme barely happens in today’s society as a lot of children are seen walking to school in groups, but that added piece of mind is sometimes essential, especially when you know that your child is in the safe hands of someone you know and who is responsible. Furthermore, a lot of responsibility is placed upon schools to uphold the promise that they will keep your child safe and that can’t always be done when a student is walking to and from school, so this initiative is a secure way of knowing all boxes are ticked when it comes to your child’s safety.
Pedestrian Council Australia started the initiative 16 years ago in a bid to encourage children to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle by simply walking to school, going for a walk during their lunch time break and walking home. The beginning goals of the organization consisted of two major ideas and that was the continual improvement of pedestrian safety, amenity and access, and the promotion of walking as a legitimate transport mode and an important, healthy, social activity. Partnering this with WSTSD, it puts in place important steps that lead the health and wellbeing of so many children on the right path.