Now in it’s 23rd year, Walk Safely to School Day is back this Friday, May 20 to encourage primary school children around the country to take a step towards a healthier future.
With benefits including increased awareness for road safety, better health for kids and parents, and less pollution from cars on the road, Harold Scruby, Chair of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said it’s a “no brainer” to walk to and from school if possible.
“Walk Safely to School Day is all about getting parents and caregivers to either walk all the way to school with their children, put the children on public transport, or stop the car about a kilometre from school and have a walk with their children,” he said.
Much of the messaging this year is surrounding the potential health benefits that walking to school provides, as Australia continues to climb the list of the world’s most obese countries.
“We’re trying to tell parents that we’re rapidly becoming one of the fattest nations in the world, much of that is because we don’t exercise enough, and walking to school is a very good way of getting children to exercise, not just because it helps them physically, but it helps them mentally as well. That’s why we say that active kids are smarter kids,” he said.
But with the day this year aligning with National Road Safety Week, Rodney Woolard from Blackwell Public School said that this knowledge is vital for their students.
“It’s really important for our school at Blackwell Public School because probably over 70 per cent of our students walk to school,” he said.
In particular, Mr Woolard is emphasising the importance of knowing the road rules when it comes to entering and exiting the school via a pedestrian crossing.
“We have three exits from our school, and one exit has a pedestrian crossing that we are lucky enough to have a person that makes sure the students are crossing the road safely,” he said.
“But, when he’s not there, it’s about making sure they’re aware of the rules when it comes to the crossing, and that a car’s not going to stop automatically, so they’re waiting before stepping across.”
To learn more about Walk Safely to School Day, visit walk.com.au.
Cassidy Pearce is the Weekender’s community news and entertainment journalist.