Benefits of Walking or Wheeling to School - Fall 2019
A message from Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the Halton District School Board
As we look forward to welcoming all students and staff back to school, I ask that you take a few minutes to read and reflect on the ways that you and your children can travel to school.
A great many of our students are driven by car to and from all of our schools. Some of these students are eligible for school buses.
I fully appreciate that driving your child to school is sometimes unavoidable. We all lead busy lives and it is not easy to get ourselves and family members organized in the morning to walk to school or to the bus stop. Inclement weather, safety concerns, the morning rush to work or appointments, and having children who attend different schools are some of the many reasons why parents/guardians drive their children to school. Although this is not an exhaustive list, as a parent, I understand that walking or wheeling to school may not be top of mind due to many other stresses in our lives.
Having said that, I ask you to think about whether your family could find the time to walk, or wheel, to school. Without question, there are tremendous benefits for both your child and the society they will grow into for doing so.
Only 35% of Canadian children achieve the recommended daily physical activity. This lack of activity can be linked to several adverse effects, among them obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Activity and exercise is excellent for higher academic performance and just 20 minutes of walking has been shown to result in higher reading and math levels. Physical activity improves focus and concentration (ParticipACTION, 2018; Tremblay & Willms, 2003; Janssen & Leblanc, 2010; Warburton et al., 2006).
Physical activity helps to improve self-confidence and positive emotions. It is also associated with reduced stress, depression and anxiety (Lambiase et al., 2010; Ramanathan et al., 2014, Iancovich, 2015; ParticipACTION, 2018).
There is no question climate change is occurring, and equally there is no question car exhaust is a major contributing factor. A car idling for 30 minutes a day adds 393 kg of greenhouse gases to the environment. We have many cars in our school parking lots idling while dropping-off or picking-up students. It is also true that walking to school exposes youth to lower concentrations of air pollutants than driving (Natural Resources Canada, 2016;
Finally, I reiterate and repeat my understanding of the difficulties of getting children out the door and off to school. It can be a challenge. However the benefits to having individuals walking and/or wheeling are both tangible and immense. By driving our children, we are negatively impacting the future environment in which they will live and work.
Thank you for considering this. I wish you all the best in figuring out how to address this issue in a way that best supports your children.
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