Walk to School Week coming to Nelson

Prepare your walking shoes and get ready for International Walk to School Week October 7 to 11.

Prepare your walking shoes and get ready for International Walk to School Week October 7 to 11.

iWalk is a weeklong event that happens every October giving children, parents, school teachers and community leaders an opportunity to be part of a global event to celebrate the many benefits of walking to school.

During iWalk week, some of the schools in School District 8 are planning events that celebrate physical activity and encourage students to walk to school.

The City of Nelson is supporting School District 8 to promote iWalk in Nelson. Councillors will walk with students to school and in some locations cones will be set up in a three-block radius around the school to mark off no-drop-off or pick-up zones.

Organizers hope  that parents will take up the cause and walk or bike with their children to school or at least for the three blocks around the school. Let’s get out and show our kids how we used to walk to school!

The 2013 Report Card for Active Healthy Kids shows too many students are driven to school. Fifty-eight per cent of parents walked to school when they were kids, but only 28 per cent of their children walk to school today.

Seven per cent of five to 11-year-olds in Canada, and four per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds, meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Youth, which recommend at least 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.

Walking and bicycling to school enables children to incorporate the regular physical activity they need each day while also forming healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Regular physical activity helps children build strong bones, muscles and joints, and it decreases the risk of obesity. In contrast, insufficient physical activity can contribute to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke.

The whole community benefits from efforts to enable and encourage more children to walk or bicycle to school safely.

Benefits include:

  • Less traffic congestion. According to the 2011 National Center for Safe Routes to School report, personal vehicles taking students to school accounted for 10 to 14 percent of all personal vehicle trips made during the morning peak commute times.
  • Stronger sense of community. The common goal of improving conditions for walking and bicycling brings families, neighbors, school officials and community leaders together. The sense of community also builds as children and parents develop walking and bicycling buddies and chat with neighbors on the sidewalk or path.
  • Safer streets. Communities with higher rates of walking and bicycling tend to have lower crash rates for all travel modes. One reason may be that motorists drive more cautiously when they expect to encounter walkers and bicyclists.
  • Lower costs. Encouraging and enabling bicycle and pedestrian trips reduces costs for the family, community and school district. Families save on gas, communities spend less on building and maintaining roads and school districts spend less on busing.
  • Improved accessibility. Enabling students of all abilities to walk and bicycle to school makes it easier for everyone in the community to get around, including parents with strollers and senior citizens.
  • Economic gains. Sidewalks, paths and other investments in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure can increase home values and direct additional traffic to local businesses.