Well, our first foray into Winter Walk and Bike events for schools exceeded our expectations. Schools certainly delivered on the goal of getting students active in the outdoors.

Let’s recap, shall we?

It’s probably not surprising that the rates of active school travel (walking, biking, and rolling to school) decline when it gets cold, but it doesn’t have to be this way, and there are so many reasons to rethink our attitudes! It does us no good to be miserable when our climate offers so much opportunity. What’s more, kids are still forming their physical activity and transportation habits, and with so many children being driven to school year round, our health and our climate depend on us making positive changes.

So what then? Well, Winter Walk Day, which is already celebrated on the first Wednesday of February in different regions across North America, was a no-brainer. Winter Bike to School Day is sorely needed as municipalities debate whether it’s worthwhile to clear snow and ice from infrastructure (which experience shows will keep people riding!). Classrooms were also invited to participate in our classic Jack Frost Challenge and track the distance they travelled using active modes of transport. Admittedly, this part was a but clunky for classrooms, we know, but your efforts made it an amazing first year! We will take your feedback to make it simpler for you next time around. Thanks to our trailblazers for being willing to try something new.

Students riding bicycles through paths cleared in snow on a schoolyard

Fat bikes ahoy at Gordon Bell!

Here’s what some of our teachers had to say:

“We had our very first Hike of the Month. Our Jack Frost Challenge hike was inspired by you guys! 200 staff and students hiked to Kildonan park and back. We roasted marshmallows on campfires and students were encouraged to lug a reusable mugs for hot chocolate upon returning from the hike. It was an awesome event, thank you for the inspiration!”

It was far more successful than I had thought. It became a larger math problem (average km, total km, multiplying, dividing, measuring) and gave a real-life understanding of distance.”

“Most kids loved being outside, its some of the adults you need to convince/get on board.

Small group of students and a teacher bundled up, standing with their bicycles

Hugh John Macdonald students out for Winter Bike to School Day

We also have to acknowledge some of the excellent work schools did in putting these events together!

  • Ms. Barkman’s class at West St. Paul School absolutely knocked it out of the park, accumulating a total of 527 km between 26 students and Ms. Janna herself over the week! Some students broke even broke the 60km mark.
  • On the biking front, students at Hugh John Macdonald School took a frosty ride on their local protected bike lanes, freshly installed in summer of 2018. Well done, HJM!
  • Gordon Bell High School rented fat bikes for their students and groomed a riding trail around their green space; students from Daniel McIntyre Collegiate also came to check out the setup, and all got to take the bikes for a spin.

Thank you to all of the schools that made this year’s events successful—we hope that these will become school traditions for years to come. As always, please let us know how we can help make these events even better for 2020!