STUDENTS and their families in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast shires are encouraged to pull on their walking shoes and take part in the 2016 Walk to School month.
Funded by VicHealth, the Walk to School campaign encourages primary school students across Victoria to walk to and from school throughout October in a bid to get more people living happier and healthier lives.
This year 13 out of 17 South Gippsland primary schools have registered for the program and the council’s Walk to School team is now busy finalising resources for the important event in October.
The council received funding for the Walk to School program for the third year running, which has been instrumental in supporting participating schools.
“The funding from VicHealth allows us to create resources for schools such as Feet First Fridays, Fresh Fruit Fun, Park and Walk, Walk – Bus – Walk and Safe Routes to Schools,” South Gippsland Shire’s Walk to School Project Support Officer, Irene Desiatov said.
“The council’s focus for Walk to School goes beyond the month of October where we hope to help develop healthy habits for life as we work with schools to develop safe walking route maps and signs that they can use well after the event is over.”
Walk to School encourages primary school children to walk, run, scoot or ride to and from school every school day in October.
The month highlights the benefits of walking for children, such as improving fitness, friendships, their confidence and the environment.
It’s free, easy and a fun way for children to get active.
‘Walking time’ is also ‘talking time’ for parents and children.
“When the stress of driving and keeping your eye on the traffic is taken away, it’s easier to talk to your children about what’s happening at school and in their lives when walking together,” Ms Desiatov said.
“October is a great time to start walking, because the fabulous spring sunshine makes it a pleasure to get out of the house, and the car, and students could win some great prizes for their family and their school.”
Local schools that still have not registered for the program can do so online at www.walktoschool.vic.gov.au
VicHealth CEO, Jerril Rechter, said last year’s Walk to School campaign saw a record number of students and schools participate and this year VicHealth hoped to see even more children walking, riding and scooting to school.
“Last year more than 108,000 children from 620 schools across Victoria took part in Walk to School and collectively walked more than 1.2 million kilometres, the equivalent of walking almost 32 times around the world,” Ms Rechter said.
“Sadly, one in four children is overweight or obese. VicHealth’s Walk to School initiative is a fun, free way to get kids active and promote healthy habits they can utilise for the rest of their lives.
“Walking, riding or scooting to school during October is also a great way to spend quality time with your children.
“If walking the whole way to school isn’t feasible, parking a few blocks away and walking the rest of the way is still a great way to get involved.”
Schools and parents can help children record their walks using classroom calendars or the Walk to School website, and all participating schools will receive student certificates to celebrate their students’ achievements, and will be in the running for a series of prizes provided by VicHealth.
With local children returning to school this week, and with potentially more kids walking and riding to school, all drivers are asked to pay special attention around schools during drop-off and pick-up times.
Victoria Police and local council officers will be monitoring school crossings and driver behaviour generally around schools in coming weeks to promote safer behaviour around schools, particularly during drop-off and pick-up times.
Bass Coast schools can contact Council’s Community Health and Wellbeing Department on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211 to find out more about local Walk to School activities.