Active School Transportation
Active and Safe Routes to School is an initiative geared towards encouraging families to choose active transportation for the trip to and from school. Active transportation refers to any form of human-powered (non-motorized) travel such as walking, cycling, using a wheelchair, scooter, or skateboard. Students who are bused can also be encouraged to use active transportation to get to the bus stop. Active transportation increases physical activity, improves physical, mental and emotional health while also benefiting our environment .
- Childhood obesity rates are increasing.
- The number of students walking to school has been steadily decreasing over the past 25 years.
- Automobile dependency is contributing to increasing greenhouse gas emissions and negatively impacting the environment across Ontario.
In working together, school administrators, teachers, parents, other school board staff, public health departments and municipalities can implement an Active and Safe Routes to School Program focused on promoting active transportation. Green Communities' Canada Walks collaborates with organizations and schools across Canada to help support active school travel initiatives and manages the School Travel Planning process. The Ontario Active School Travel website contains numerous resources to support schools and communities in getting more kids walking and wheeling to school.
Students who reside in the walking area benefit from a daily walk (or bike, or skateboard, or scooter ride) to school in many different ways.
This simple journey can mean so much:
Walking or cycling to school regularly gives your child opportunities for daily physical activity that will help him or her avoid chronic disease and develop healthy habits that may continue into later years. ParticipACTION recommends that children accumulate several hours’ worth of light movement every day. Walking to school is a perfect opportunity to get it; more than half the body’s muscles are designed for walking; it is a natural movement that is virtually injury-free.
- Active school travel is an important source of Daily Physical Activity (DPA)
- The principles outlined in Ontario’s Foundations for a Healthy School are promoted
Students who get physical activity in the morning arrive at school more alert and ready to learn – and studies show they score higher on tests. Studies show the power of concentration is increased for up to 4 hours after a 20-minute walk!
Up to 25% of the morning rush hour traffic is attributed to the school commute. Reducing the number of cars at schools improves air quality, creating healthier environments where children spend a great part of their day.
- Schools can earn points towards the EcoSchools Canada certification
Fun and happiness
Those who walk and cycle the school route enjoy a deeper connection to their community and find joy in nature and people along the way; all of which leads to less stress and less depression.
The walk to school provides a great opportunity for students to gradually know their community and take incrementally greater responsibility for themselves and younger children.
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