Taking steps toward a healthier future

GLENORCHY Mayor Kristie Johnston has stepped out in support for National Walk Safely to School Day, joining Dominic College students for a stroll to spread awareness of the importance of physical activity in the lead up to the main event on Friday 17 May.

National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that raises 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.

The annual event, which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary, encourages primary school-aged children to build walking into their daily routine by walking to and from school, not just on Friday 17 May, but every day.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman and chief executive officer Harold Scruby said physical inactivity was a major risk factor for so many chronic diseases that could affect children at different stages of their life, including mental illness, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

“Primary school-aged children across Australia, it’s time to get walking,” he said.

“One in four children in Australia are overweight or obese and it is expected that numbers will reach one in three by next year.

“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 huff and puff physical activity every day.

“We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day – if you can’t walk all the way, use public transport and get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to school.”

National Walk Safely to School Day also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, 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.”

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, schools are also encouraged to host a free healthy breakfast on Friday 17 May in conjunction with their local supermarket or greengrocer.

Top five tips for parents to get their kids walking to school

  1. Walk some or, if you can, all the way to school.
  2. Get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  3. Leave the car at least one kilometre away from school and walk the rest of the way.
  4. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier to fit in a walk to school.
  5. If you can’t walk in the morning, walk home after school.

For more information about how to get involved on Walk Safely to School Day, visit www.walk.com.au.

For a guide to hosting a healthy breakfast, visit www.walk.com.au/WSTSD/host-a-healthy-breakfast.asp.

Caption: Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston and Dominic College students step out in support of National Walk Safely to School Day, which will be held on Friday 17 May.