GLENORCHY Mayor Kristie Johnston laced up her shoes recently in support of National Walk Safely to School Day, joining her two children on their walk to Dominic College.
National Walk Safely to School Day, which was held on Friday 18 May, is a community initiative that aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long-term wellbeing of children.
Mayor Johnston said participating in Walk Safely to School Day was not only an important message for young people to get outside and be active, but was also a great chance to keep strengthening that bond between parents and children.
“Getting out and walking is one of the most proactive ways to keep our children off devices and away from the television,” she said.
“And walking with others is a great way for children to socialise and may ultimately encourage them into more group sporting activities.
“It is also important for people to participate these days as it reminds us to appreciate the outdoors, appreciate being active and sets us all up for the day ahead in a really positive way.
“Walking gives us motivation and energy to tackle our day and whatever that day may bring.”
Walk Safely to School Day encourages primary school aged children to build walking into their daily routine by walking to and from school not just on Friday 18 May, but every day.
Aside from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on their cognitive and academic performance.
Dominic College principal Beth Gilligan said the school had participated in the annual Walk Safely to School Day event for many years.
“We encourage our students and their families to live active, healthy lifestyles and events such as this are an excellent way to promote that,” she said.
“It is important to us that our children understand the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle and walking to school is a great way for those who live nearby to get the regular exercise they need for optimum health and wellbeing.”
Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman and chief executive officer Harold Scruby said physical inactivity was a major risk factor for many chronic diseases that could affect kids at different stages of their life, including mental illness, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“One in four children in Australia are overweight or obese, and it is expected that numbers will reach one in three by 2020,” he said.
“We really need teachers, parents, carers and the community at large to get behind this event and its objectives – the best exercise for all of us is regular walking.
“Children require at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity. We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day.”
The national initiative also promotes improved diets (by asking schools and P&Cs to host a healthy breakfast), positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and the vitally important road safety message: “Until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road.”
It also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, while minimising the risk of Australian children developing heart disease and diabetes.
For more information about Walk Safely to School Day, visit www.walk.com.au/wstsd.
Caption: Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston walks to school with her two children Harry, grade six, and Lucy, grade five, in support of Walk Safely to School Day.