Start this school year on the right foot!

The start of the school year is a great time for walking, scooting, and cycling. It’s also when families establish routines for the entire school year. Why not choose an active routine that includes walking or wheeling to school when you can? It benefits your family and your community alike! Some families use active transportation once a week as they walk home from school together on a Friday afternoon. Other families walk or bike to school every morning. Some families drive part way, park 5 or 10 minutes away from school, and walk the rest of the way together. No matter how active transportation fits into your lifestyle, there are countless benefits associated with it.

One benefit of walking to school is that it helps kids get the physical activity they need. The 2022 ParticipACTION Report Card shows that only 28% of kids in Canada (5-17 years) are meeting national physical activity guidelines.

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend 60 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity per day and 1-2 hours of light physical activity per day for children aged 5-17. These targets can be achieved by including walking, cycling, or scooting to school in your family’s routine. Best of all, this is quality time a family can spend together.

It can be challenging to start a new routine, so watch this 2-minute video to learn about the benefits of active transportation. Active transportation can improve health, safety, and air quality along with building a sense of community and lifelong habits.

If you live too far away from school, or your schedule makes it challenging to walk, bike, or scoot the whole way, consider parking within a 5- to 10-minute radius of the school and walking the rest of the way. Even walking 5 minutes to school instead of driving to the drop off area reduces congestion around the school, improves school zone safety, and promotes physical activity. You can find Walk-A-Block map for OCDSB and OCSB schools here, and at these links for CECCE and CEPEO schools.

Whether you walk all or part of the way to school, all those steps add up, and it’s fun to see how far you can walk over the course of then school year! Students can use the Hop! app to track how many steps and kilometres they walk this school year while learning about the positive impact walking has on the environment. The app’s engaging illustrations, group challenges, and milestones help students to choose walking first.

If you’ve never walked to school or tried parking away from the school and walking a few blocks, it’s a great idea try out these new options before the school year begins. This gives you time to find a route that works for you as you schedule physical activity into your drop-off and pick-up routine. Don’t worry if your plans change due to weather or other circumstances. Just walk to school when you can — it will make a world of difference!

Find more resources about school active transportation at EnviroCentre and the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority.

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