Walking to school

June 22, 2010

Healthy Environment

This morning I joined representatives from the City, Upper Grand District School Board, Wellington Catholic District School Board, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, and Guelph Police Services to walk the streets between St. Paul Catholic School, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic School and Westminster Woods Public School.

This was with a group of people with a vested interest in decreasing the amount of traffic in our roads, reducing the environmental impact of vehicle emissions, and promoting the health and community benefits of walking to school rather than driving.

By familiarizing ourselves with the benefits and barriers to developing a “walking culture” among students, we hope to be better able to encourage families and their children to take that first step.

Driving children to school has become prevalent in today’s society.  I saw that first hand when I returned to St. Paul Catholic School.

With airbags, child restraints and 3,000 pounds of steel surrounding our loved ones, we might assume this is an infinitely safer way to travel to school.  What we don’t think about enough is what happens to our children when they step out of the car onto the street.

The congestion caused by so many parents dropping off their kids at the exact same time in one area is a real concern for our school administrators as it poses a danger for students as they negotiate their way into the school.  

With all of the distractions facing students – including suddenly seeing their best friends, hanging on to their science project, cars weaving in and out of the designated drop off zones and regrettably dangerous drivers, particularly speeders – more children walking to school can increase their safety if more of us get in motion.

Reducing vehicle emissions also saves lives. Vehicle pollution hurts the most vulnerable in our community, like seniors, but also children.  We are seeing an alarming increase in the rates of asthma and asthma-related symptoms. Walking is a no cost way to improve the health of local neighbourhoods and to make a difference globally. By reducing the amount of traffic and encouraging students to walk, we will work to meet our goal of the Community Energy Initiative to reduce energy use from transportation by 25% and halving our green house gas emissions over the next two decades. By encouraging our children to walk we promote their physical well being and the health of the planet.  We are the safest community in Canada and we also want to be the most physically active.

For those parents who can join their children for the morning walk it is good quality time family time without the competition from the ever present screen. It is also a good time for children to learn about safety, whether it is how to cross a roundabout or talking to strangers.

Parents and children will have the opportunity to learn the safe walking route for themselves on August 25th.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

Connect with the City of Guelph

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: