For immediate release
A Safe Route to School for all Manitoba Schoolchildren: School Travel Planning Announced in the Province
September 14, 2010 – Green Action Centre’s Active and Safe Routes to School Program announced today that School Travel Planning (STP), a national framework that addresses the issues of sustainability, safety and health associated with the trip to school using a collaborative community-based approach, is being piloted in 12 schools in Manitoba this school year in Thompson, Winnipeg, Steinbach and Fisher River First Nation. School Travel Planning brings together community stakeholders to identify barriers that prevent children from walking or biking and develop a written action plan for addressing those unique barriers at each participating school.
Many regions across Canada are searching for answers to school-related traffic issues, children’s lack of daily physical activity and the deterioration of the environment. STP offers a comprehensive approach to solving such challenges.
“The flexibility of the School Travel Plan model allows communities to customize their approach to fit local circumstances,” said Jackie Avent, Active and Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator, she added, “Our plan is to offer the program to all schools in the coming year, but right now we are here to help facilitate uptake, answer questions, and ensure that this program can serve the needs of Manitoba communities.”
This announcement is timely given that October is designated as International Walk to School month (IWALK). Schools, School Division representatives, teachers, and parents are encouraged to contact Green Action Centre for more information and to register their school. Green Action Centre will provide IWALK resources and organizing materials that will aid in organizing events in Manitoba schools.
As the number of children being driven to and from school skyrockets, schools are facing congestion and traffic safety issues, the air is being filled with more pollutants, and many students are being denied the opportunity for exercise, fresh air and independence. This is a common problem in countries around the world, and in Manitoba. Some countries began to tackle school travel problems decades ago and have made tremendous progress. The Manitoba STP pilot has been based on these international best-practices and is part of a larger, national pilot spearheaded by Green Communities Canada. This phase is underway within Manitoba to develop a strategy to deal with local challenges such as those presented by smaller, rural and remote communities, as well as extremely cold winters. Through School Travel Planning, Active and Safe Routes to School in Manitoba is working toward the following two major goals:
- to help to make it safe for children to walk/bike/rollerblade/skateboard to and from school; and
- to encourage them to do so
An assessment of provincial ministerial goals by Ms Avent showed that STP could help meet the needs of several different government departments and programs including Healthy Living; Youth and Seniors’ Age-Friendly and Healthy Schools initiatives; the Department of Education’s emphasis on Education for Sustainable Development; Local Government’s Community Led Emissions Reduction Program; and the potential development of a School Zone Traffic Safety Handbook through the Ministry of Transportation. Bringing all the interested parties to the table could mean concentrating efforts and developing mandates that would result in policies and bylaws that reflect the priorities of the province and get students moving.
Jackie Avent, Active and Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator, at (204) 475-1327 (c);
(204) 925-3773 (w) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Action Centre (formerly Resource Conservation Manitoba) website: www.greenactioncentre.ca
School Travel Planning website: http://www.saferoutestoschool.ca
- Green Action Centre (formerly Resource Conservation Manitoba (RCM)) is an established and well-respected non-profit organization in Manitoba with a strong track record in project delivery and connections with community networks. These include ongoing partnerships with Manitoba Government agencies, connections with planners and municipal officials in Winnipeg, as well as a broad web of contacts in the sustainable transportation, public health, injury prevention and community safety fields.
- Households, workplaces, schools, and communities look to Green Action Centre for practical information on active transportation, composting, waste reduction and resource conservation. Green Action Centre works with partners and community networks to identify down-to-earth, everyday solutions to climate change, traffic congestion, overconsumption and waste.
- Active and Safe Routes to School is a program that encourages the use of active modes of transportation to and from school, such as walking school buses. There are many program benefits including: increased physical activity for children and youth; a healthier lifestyle for the whole family; less traffic congestion around schools; safer, calmer streets and neighbourhoods; and improved air quality and a clean environment.
- Green Communities Canada, Transport Canada and Metrolinx produced a report that highlighted significant strides, lessons learned and a review of STP programs internationally. The full report entitled “Review of International School Travel Planning Best Practices” is available online at:http://saferoutestoschool.ca/downloads/Intl_STP_Best_Practices_Update_2010.pdf.
- Children’s and youth’s school day travel by car, as passengers, has increased substantially between 1986 and 2001: for 11- to 15-year-olds the per-capita increase was 83 per cent; for 16- to 19-year-olds it was 61 per cent (but with essentially no increase in trips by this age group as a driver). Meanwhile, the per-capita increase in car use by adults, as a passenger or driver, was only 11 per cent.
- Green Communities Canada’s national pilot project is called “Children’s Mobility, Health and Happiness: a Canadian School Travel Planning Model and is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada, through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer; and from the Public Health Agency of Canada. To learn more about the project, please see http://www.saferoutestoschool.ca/schooltravel.asp .
- Green Action Centre will be working with 12 Manitoba schools on this exciting project, building capacity for school travel planning at a school division and municipal level. The Manitoba School Travel Planning schools will include:
Thompson, Manitoba – Mystery Lake School Division:
- Riverside School
- Wapanohk School
- Juniper School
- Deerwood School
- Burntwood School
- Westwood School
Winnipeg, Manitoba – Winnipeg School Division & Pembina Trails School Division:
- Greenway School (Winnipeg School Division)
- Dalhousie School (Pembina Trails School Division)
- Ryerson School (Pembina Trails School Division)
- Ecole St.Avila (Pembina Trails School Division)
Steinbach, Manitoba – Hanover School Division:
- Woodlawn School
Fisher River, Manitoba – Fisher River Education:
- Charles Sinclair School