Walk Safely to School Day
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Pedestrian Council of Australia
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Heather Gough and Douglas - Photo: Phil Blatch
Mosman Daily - Thursday 28 March 2002

Walking safely to school

NURSE unit manager Heather Gough is right behind Walk Safely to School Day next week, Friday April 5.

Ms Gough and her nine-year-old son Douglas will walk almost 2km from their home to Mosman Public School to support it.

Ms Gough said Douglas often walked home because it's downhill, but walking uphill to school was harder.

She can see many benefits in the day, which is being promoted by Northern Sydney Health and was an initiative of the Neutral Bay-based Pedestrian Council of Australia.

The day aims to encourage safe pedestrian behaviour, ensure children up to 10 hold an adult's hand when crossing the road, and promote the benefits of walking.

“It encourages children to think of other ways of getting about, using their legs instead of the car,'' Ms Gough said.

“It encourages their knowledge of the neighbourhood. They actually know where to go if they get into trouble.

“In a car you don't know necessarily where to go if something untoward should happen.''

Ms Gough believes walking to school also encourages road safety and the growth of children's independence.

“It's also good for the environment, with fewer cars on the road,'' she said.

“The other thing that goes with that is reducing the congestion and the traffic dangers to children around schools.

“Schools are notorious for the number of parents dropping off who double park.

“Kids without their peripheral vision are in danger. That vision develops over time but people don't really realise that,'' Ms Gough said.

The mother said walking to school also made children “a visible part of the community rather than hidden in cars''.

NSW Health is one of the major sponsors of the campaign, now in its second year.
Northern Sydney Health area director of child and family health Elisabeth Murphy said it was an ideal chance for parents and carers of primary school children to help kids learn safe pedestrian behaviour.

“It is a community event that seeks to promote road safety, health, public transport and the environment,'' Dr Murphy said.

“Walking to school is a great way to start the day. If children can establish a healthy attitude to regular physical activity at a young age, chances are they will maintain this behaviour as adults.''

She said walking was also good for a child's health, especially with childhood and adolescent obesity on the increase.

“Things like holding an adult's hand when children are on the footpath and crossing the road, waiting until the bus has gone and then using a safe place to cross the road, will all help reduce the number of accidents involving children.''

Sponsors include the RTA, Motor Accidents Authority, Active Australia, Transport NSW, the NRMA, educational groups and NSW Police.

© 2021 Pedestrian Council of Australia