In Britain, about half the local school systems have some sort of informal, incentive program to encourage walking, according to Roger L. Mackett, a professor at the Center for Transport Studies at University College in London.
Fear is a factor that keeps some students in London from walking to school. The BBC reported a survey done by the charity Living Streets: A total of 48% of London’s children said “stranger danger” was a concern – higher than the national average of 39%.
Incentives to get kids moving vary. Students at two London schools can earn free movie tickets and shopping vouchers by walking to school. Along the route, they swipe cards through machines that record their route. The number of walking students increased by 18 per cent, and more got to class on time. But more inventive is the Living Streets’ Dance Walk program and its character named Strider. In their link below, the pictures are the proof.
Every October is ‘Walk to School’ month in the state of Victoria, in south-east Australia. Primary school students get some top-down encouragement to walk to and from school. This proactive program gets everyone going – children, parents, teachers and street-crossing guards. It aims to set new habits in motion.
Parents and teachers help kids keep track of their walks using the ‘Walk to School’ website, app or class calendar. Children play interactive games on the app, earn items for an imaginary ‘Walk to School’ journey with each completed walk, and compete with other schools.
The ‘Say G’day Challenge’ is a highlight on Friday October 24. Each child on foot or on bike who says “G’day” to their local street-crossing guard receives a ticket to enter a draw for special prizes.
Last year more than 32,000 students from 303 primary schools took part in ‘Walk to School’.
Details and photo of logo from:
Canadian parents, by and large, walked to school when they were kids. Not so much for their own children. Fewer kids these days walk or bike to school. Active Healthy Kids Canada, in their recent ‘report card’, gives Canadian kids a D- on this physical activity.
While 58% of parents walked to school when they were children, only 28% of their own kids were doing the same today. “That’s a reduction of 50% in one generation,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, chief scientific officer of Active Healthy Kids Canada. “High numbers of kids are being ferried to destinations within walking or biking distance.”
How to reverse this trend? Kelly Murumets of ParticipAction says parents need to get involved. Kids who are able to travel on foot or use pedal power can travel in groups with volunteer adults. “Kids are getting physical activity, they have social time, they’re with other kids, they’re safe because they’re supervised, (and) some of the parents who do work are able to make their way to the office,” Murumets said.
If kids walked for all trips less than one kilometer in distance, it would translate, on average, to 2,238 additional steps each day – or around 15 to 20 minutes of walking, Active Healthy Kids Canada noted.
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