At a national level of Active and Safe Routes to School practitioners, we’ve been noticing more and more articles and features in the mainstream media lately that very closely parallel the work we’re doing around children’s mobility, health, sustainability and happiness.
Physical activity has been getting more and more attention, with an emphasis on how to incorporate it into every day activities, awareness of issues related to childhood obesity – screen time and the identification of sedentary times of day (like the after-school time period) – are frequently addressed, and happiness and emotional wellness has been dominating magazine covers and talk show circuits for the last several months.
Today’s Globe and Mail sites a new Stat’s Can report that Canadians are too sedentary – according to the article, only 7% of young people get the recommended amount of exercise recommended by Canada’s new physical activity guidelines.
The Globe’s Focus section last weekend has an article that talks about government measures to reduce obesity, and touts “nudging” (i.e. using fun and other incentives) over “shaming”. It specifically references a school-based program in London where students who walked to school earned credit towards movie tickets and other vouchers. The program increased walking at participating schools by 18%, but perhaps more interestingly, more students got to class on time after the program was launched.
Many of the good-idea initiatives they praise have a background in Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM), with a focus on things like “incentives” and “norms” — a nice tie-in to the CBSM section that is included in Manitoba Active and Safe Routes to School Program Handbook and Resource Guide.
It’s heartening to see elements that form the backbone of the Active and Safe Routes to School program and School Travel Planning being touted and praised in the media. It’s just one more sign that we’ve been on the right track all along!
Thank you to Cheyenne Dickinson, National School Travel Planning Support Coordinator for most of this post content and all-round inspiration!