There is great urgency across Canada for children to be healthier and more active. As stated in the 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, only 9% of Canadian children get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity they need each day. With Canadian children scoring a D- for overall physical activity levels, we need to get children moving and adopt a healthier lifestyle for the sake of their future. This is where active travel to school comes into play. The following are a ways to promote active transportation at school and at home.
- Make active transportation accessible at your school with bike racks, organizing walking school buses, maintaining pathways/ streets around the school area, training crossing guards, etc.
- Take part in special events that promote and celebrate active transportation, like Bike to School Month (May), Clean Air Day (June), and I Walk to School Month (October). Register your school today for Bike to School Month next month!
- Use the app BikeWalkRoll to conduct classroom surveys to see how children are travelling to school. You can then compare your classroom to others at your school, and to schools all across Manitoba, which is a great opportunity to have a conversation around healthy school transportation. These surveys also help Green Action Centre research how children in Manitoba are travelling to/ from school, and the necessary solutions required to eliminate any barriers they face.
- Take it one step further by developing a comprehensive School Travel Plan for your school. ASRTS can guide you in conducting surveys and consulting with necessary community stakeholders to develop necessary action steps to make positive change when it comes to children actively travelling to school as often and safely as possible. School Travel Planning is an international best practice that identifies and resolves barriers to walking and biking to school.
- Make the case as to why active transportation should be a priority at your school with this comprehensive report Saving Money and Time with Active School Travel.
- Due to the multi-disciplinary aspects of the ASRTS program, there are many ways in which it can be integrated into the Manitoba Curriculum. See the Curriculum Integration section of our resource guidebook for how it can be incorporated at all grade levels.
- Try your best to have a flexible schedule that will accommodate some extra time for you to walk or bike with your children to school. If this doesn’t work for your schedule, see if you can find a family member or neighbour that can walk or bike to school with your children.
- Practice street safety with your children, including the safety measures required when walking and/ or cycling in public spaces. Manitoba Public Insurance offers great information and resources online for teaching street safety to children.
- Take part in a Walking or Cycling School Bus, which consists of two or more families travelling together to and/or from school. Volunteer parents who live in close proximity to each other walk or bike with children as one collective group or “bus”, sharing responsibility and building social networks along the way.
- Be a role model for your whole family. If you are able to walk or bike to school with your children, or to your own job, your children will look up to you and your choices, and follow suit. Set up a lifelong habit of healthy, active travel. Visit Workplace Commuter Options‘ page for resources to help you start actively travelling to work.
- Make active and healthy living a priority all week long. Getting children to play outside after school or on the weekend gets them accustomed to an active lifestyle, making active transportation to and/of from school an easy transition.
- Work closely with your children’s school, parent council, or your local City Councillor to make active transportation a priority in your neighbourhood.