For Immediate Release
Winnipeg – Students around Manitoba are walking and biking more, thanks to their participation in the School Travel Planning project, which sought to reduce the numbers of children being driven to and from school. Prior to starting the national pilot, it is estimated that 41 per cent of children across Canada were driven to school, based on new data from Canada Walks.
Green Action Centre’s Active and Safe Routes to School program represented Manitoba in a national pilot project called School Travel Planning. School Travel Planning aims to get more families walking and wheeling to/from school by bringing together community stakeholders to identify barriers to active transportation for each school and develop a written action plan. In Manitoba, the pilot took place at twelve schools in four municipalities (Winnipeg, Thompson, Fisher River Cree Nation, and Steinbach). Due to its success, Green Action Centre’s approach was honoured with a Manitoba Planning Excellence Award earlier this year.
School Travel Planning (STP) projects have worked to improve street infrastructure, increase awareness of the benefits of active travel and establish walking and cycling groups. This two-year pilot translated into a 4-6 per cent increase in children walking to and from school provincially. As more improvements are made, that number is expected to increase.
Manitoba data also revealed that 19 per cent of surveyed families cut down their driving for the school trip, and parents noticed a corresponding reduction in traffic congestion by 19% around participating schools.
Bruce Krentz, a parent at Westwood School in Thompson, MB, likes what School Travel Planning has done for his children. He says “Having them walk and bike when they can to school has been excellent for them in terms of getting a little bit more activity every day. I think they’re happier when they get to school and even when they get home. I know when they walk it’s a great feeling for them.”
Convenience was cited by parents as the top most reason for driving children to school, followed by weather and traffic safety. But many Canadian communities are simply not designed to allow children the freedom of independent mobility. The School Travel Planning model tackles all of these issues head on, and the results of this two-year project show that model can shift the trend from driving to active travel.
“We celebrate every family who chooses to walk, even if they can’t do it all the time” says Shoni Litinsky, Active and Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Green Action Centre. “We know that breaking up sedentary time for children is key to bringing down rates of obesity, chronic illness and some cancers and when we leave the cars at home our communities become more connected and we have cleaner air in our neighbourhoods. Active and Safe Routes to School in Manitoba believes so strongly in School Travel Planning we’re leading the nation in building capacity by delivering training workshops and building an iPad app that will expand data collection capability.”
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Shoni Litinsky, Green Action Centre Tel: (204) 925.3773 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada Walks is a department of Green Communities Canada, a national association of non-profit organizations that deliver innovative, practical environmental solutions to Canadian households and communities. For more information, visit www.saferoutestoschool.ca/schooltravel.asp. The School Travel Planning project is funded by the Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention (CLASP), an initiative of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer with additional funds from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Jacky Kennedy, Canada Walks, Green Communities Canada, Toronto, ON
Ph: (416) 992-5496 Email: email@example.com