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Walking keeps it fit for friends

By Casey Neill - Star Greater Dandenong - 25 October 2012

Athol Road Primary School students Mooie, Ashelley, David, Rabieh, and Tarny have shoes made for walking. 88674 Picture: MEAGAN ROGERS


ATHOL Road Primary School students are pounding the pavement this month for fitness, friendship and prizes.

Until 31 October students are walking to school and keeping track of their efforts for the Walk to School challenge.

The Springvale South school’s Walk to School co-ordinator Mei Luong said the program had a long history at the Springvale South and Southvale primary schools, which merged in 2010.

“We started a walking school bus, supported by VicHealth, in 2003 until the initiative ended in 2010,” she said.

“Our school also participates in the TravelSmart program and other annual events such as National Walk Safely to School Day in March, Ride2School in May and Walktober in October.”

Ms Luong said the school had also participated in Bicycle Victoria’s Hands Up survey, which sees kids asked to raise their hands if they walked or rode their bike to school that day, since 2009.

She said the school strongly promoted health and fitness, environmental awareness and social skills.

“Walking or riding to school in group is enjoyable activity and fully supported by students, parents and teachers,” she said.

And the students have the chance to win certificates, shoe vouchers and family passes to Melbourne attractions through Walk to School if they record their activity online.

The VicHealth challenge is now in its seventh year and aims to get kids walking to school to help their fitness, confidence, friendships and the environment.

Only one in five Victorian kids walk to school regularly.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said parents’ concerns about letting kids walk to school fell away when they walked with their children, taught them about walking safely, and allowed them to gain confidence in their road sense.

Victorian child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said walking helped to develop motor skills, coping skills and self-esteem.

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