Walk Safely to School Day encourages OSHC children to step in the right direction
May 17 marks the 20th annual National Walk Safely to School Day, with Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services around Australia joining in with the community event designed to promote road safety, health, public transport and the environment.
Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia said that in addition to showing parents, carers and children how easy it is to incorporate a safe walk to school, the event also promotes improved diets, positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and important road safety messages.
Sport Australia CEO, Kate Palmer, says that Australian children need to do more than just walk to school “super-charge their health, wellbeing and learning.”
Praising event organisers, the Pedestrian Council of Australia, for their work in encouraging efforts to make walking an every day activity for children, Ms Pamer said National Walk Safely to School Day is “a great initiative”, before warning that daily walking is only the start, and that more needed to be done.
“Let’s not hide from the fact Australia has an inactivity crisis. It’s vital for the health and future of our nation that we help our children find any opportunities to be more active,” Ms Palmer said.
Citing data which shows 81 per cent of children are not achieveing the recommended physical activity guideline of one hour per day, Ms Palmer said that with a quarter of Australia’s children currently obese, “it will only get worse if we don’t intervene now.”
Ms Palmer is encouraging parents and grandparents to use National Walk Safely to School Day as an exercise to kick-start healthy habits in families.
“Every parent encourages their children to take their first step, let’s keep that encouragement going as they continue to grow-up. Escape the chaotic school drop-offs and spend some quality time walking with your children or grandchildren to and from school, or park the car a few blocks away and walk part of the way. It’s good for children, parents and the environment.” she said.
In addition to walking, Ms Palmer said it was “critical” to keep growing sport and physical activity in schools also. Sport Australia manages the national Sporting Schools program which provides free and fun activities for children.
Introduced almost four years ago, Sport Australia’s Sporting Schools Program has now funded almost 7300 schools, providing “fun and free” ways to get children moving.
“If we can introduce more children to sport and physical activity, then we are putting them on a path to healthier, happier lives” Ms Palmer said.
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