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The Inverell Times - Friday 15 May, 2009

Students take steps in the right direction

Students take safe steps in right direction

15/05/2009 9:23:00 AM
Primary school students from Inverell will pound the pavement today as part of efforts to highlight better physical and mental health and enjoy cleaner air as part of National Walk Safely to School Day.

It is estimated that 8000 primary schools took part in the event, which asked parents to walk safely to school with their children, either all or part of the way.

The aim of the event is to develop Active Kids and Healthy Kids by encouraging all Australian children to exercise regularly, including at least 30 minutes of walking in their daily routine. The event also aims to reduce hazardous traffic congestion and vehicle pollution around schools.

“National Walk to Safely to School Day is an opportunity to develop healthy and sustainable habits, not only for one day, but for life,” said event organiser Harold Scruby from the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

“Children develop lifestyle habits when they’re young. Encouraging them to walk regularly, instead of jumping in the car, is an easy way to get them on the path to becoming healthy adults.

“A walk in the morning also prepares students mentally for an active day of learning and playing. And it’s great for parents too. By leaving the car at least one kilometre from school, parents can avoid the traffic congestion and stress of dropping the kids off, and enjoy a peaceful walk and talk in the healthy morning air.”

Principal of Inverell Public School Rodney Robinson said he and his staff and students support the event and are keen to encourage more of the same in the future.

“We’ve always had our supervised school crossings here with the flags out during school days, and we encourage students to walk to and from school safely all the time, not just on certain days,” he said. “This event though is about highlighting the issue and refreshing the message that walking is good for you and the environment.”

Mr Scruby said that while the event is good fun, it also has serious messages, teaching vital lessons about health and saving the environment.

He highlighted the fact that research shows that promoting a sedentary lifestyle will result in obesity.

“Bad habits last a lifetime,” he said.

“Cars produce nearly a fifth of household greenhouse gas emissions, so one of the best things you can do for the planet is to drive less. Not owning a car saves you money (a typical car costs $7,500 a year to run). More than half the car journeys are less than 3km, but car engines are least efficient when warming up. So replacing short trips like driving to school with walking can help reduce negative impacts of driving,” he said.

“We understand walking the entire way to school can be difficult or impractical for some parents and carers. So if you have to drive, don’t forget you can simply park the car a good distance away from the school and walk the rest of the way.”

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