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The Mercury - Wednesday 27 April 2005

Small steps to fitness, safety


LANSDOWNE Crescent Primary School has more than its share of fit young children.

West Hobart is home for many young families and several of them can be seen walking to and from the school each day.

Among the regulars are Mark and Wendy Paynter who walk their four children -- Darcy, 9, Nellie, 6, and twins Ned and Toby, 4-1/2 -- to and from their home in Arthur St.

"It takes about 10 or 15 minutes, depending what we do on the way," Mr Paynter said.

"Both Wendy and I work part-time, so one of us is always available to walk with the kids in the morning then walk them home after school.

"We believe you need to learn to walk to be healthy and active later in life."

Another couple regularly seen walking to the school are Angaw and Mulu Alebel with their son, Ermiyas, 8. The family arrived from Ethiopia two years ago.

"I like the exercise," Mr Alebel said.

"It is good for us to walk and for our children to get used to good habits at this age.

"Our whole family walks a lot. Both Mulu and I are studying English at TAFE and we walk down there as well from our home in Minallo Ave."

With a recent report identifying more than a third of Australian children aged 7 to 11 either overweight or obese, teachers, parents and carers are again being encouraged to take part in the fifth annual Walk Safely to School Day on Friday, May 6.

An initiative of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, the day aims to encourage primary school children to develop healthy lifestyle habits and educate them on safe pedestrian behaviour.

Council chairman Harold Scruby believes participating in a simple, regular walking program can curb this national trend and avoid Australians becoming one of the fattest countries in the world.

"Super-size kids are a big concern for many parents and teachers, but it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive to get our kids' health back on track," Mr Scruby said.

"Also, we need to make sure that children up to 10 years old are holding the hand of an adult whenever crossing the road, as children under 10 are not aware of the dangers and are easily distracted," he said.

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