October is Walk to School Month, and as a parent I love Walk to School Month. Last year was the first year that my daughter (7 years old at the time, in grade 2) got really involved. From the outset she was determined that she would walk to school “every single day”, and we did (I am lucky enough to be able to organise my work hours so that we can walk or ride to and from school). Even when it was raining she insisted on walking to school, and we found that with an umbrella walking in the rain isn’t really that bad. We aren’t scared of a little rain any more. An umbrella that changes colour when it gets wet helped too.
VicHealth was running a competition to post a photo of your walk to school. October has to be one of the most beautiful months of the year – we photographed flowers of all sorts and colours, baby magpies, dew drops in spider webs.
Our school signed up for Walk to School month, and in every classroom was a calendar where the kids marked if they walked to and from school each day. This visual record was a great way for them to see how they going during the month. There was a set of pedometers that kids could borrow to see how many steps they took each day. This was hugely popular. At the end of the month, all the kids got a certificate to record the number of walks they did, and got curly shoe laces and stickers as a reward.
The Walk to School program keeps the focus on walking or riding to school every day that the kids go to school. It is believed that 21 days is enough to build a habit. For our family it was an eye opener on how easy it is to incorporate active travel into our everyday lives. And today, on the first day of Walk to School month 2016 we were delighted with a beautiful fresh and sunny morning for our skate to school. I hope this program inspires more families to discover the joy of walking and riding to school.
Gerri Mills is a parent in Melbourne, and a passionate supporter of walking to school.
VicHealth’s Walk to School campaign encourages primary-school students across Victoria to walk, ride or scoot to and from school as often as possible during the month of October. By working with primary schools, local councils and communities, the Walk to School campaign integrates active travel behaviours into local settings.
Walking, riding or scooting to and from school can help children to achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, and adopt physical activity habits for life. It can also help to reduce traffic congestion, parking difficulties and the associated environmental impacts.
Last year, Walk to School had 620 primary schools involved, with a total of 108,997 primary students tracking 1.7 million walks!