Why parents and kids should take up the challenge of Walk to School 2012

October 1 2012 Why parents and kids should take up the challenge of Walk to School 2012

As the winter gloom lifts over Victoria and we gladly welcome back the beautiful sunny skies of spring, there’s no better to time to leave the car at home and get walking around your neighbourhood.

Every October, VicHealth supports Walk to School Day to help get families on the path to good health. This year, we’ve listened to the feedback from the community, who have told us that one day is not enough.

So we’re inviting all Victorian parents with primary school aged kids to walk to and from school every day from the start of term four (8 October) and keep it up for the remaining school days of that month.

The health implications of kids being ferried to school too often are well documented and unfortunately it happens far too often – even when kids live close enough to walk.

Time and convenience is certainly part of it, but we have surveyed thousands of parents over the past few years and one thing is clear: fear is keeping kids cooped up. Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about stranger-danger, traffic and neighbourhood crime.

These fears are not irrational, but they can be damaging the health of kids.

That’s why VicHealth is currently surveying hundreds of families around the state, in conjunction with the Parenting Research Centre, to get to the bottom of this so-called ‘cotton wool kids’ phenomenon and to find practical solutions that work.

This is a three-year study, which will take us to 2015, but what is already abundantly clear is that our attitude towards regular exercise needs to change.

Increasingly, walking is viewed as a hassle rather than a joy, an inconvenience, rather than a necessity for good mental and physical health.

VicHealth recognises the urgent need to turn this trend around.

Last year around 60,000 students from 380 primary schools took part in VicHealth’s Walk to School Day. This October, we want to beat that record.

As well as the multitude of health benefits walking provides, kids who walk develop better motor skills, coping, self-esteem and social skills. Walking every day will help students build a walking habit that’s good for them, good for their families and better for the environment.

Even for parents with busy lifestyles, time shouldn’t be an issue if you live within two kilometres of your school. By the time you’ve stopped at lights and signs, driven through 40km/h zones, gone around the block twice looking for a park, chances are, your child could have walked to school.

Travelling without adults helps children develop a sense of control, independence and confidence in making their way around their world. Letting go is challenging, but it can be done.

So I’d ask you please, to register with us by visiting www.walktoschool.vic.gov.au and get your kids on the path to good health this October.

Alternatively, join the conversation on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WalkToSchool

You can also check out Victoria Walks’, which provides great ideas for walks around your neighbourhood.

Let’s all get on the path to good health this spring.

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