Primary school students across Australia are encouraged to get walking as part of National Walk Safely to School Day, which aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking can provide for the long term wellbeing of children.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the event, which will take place on Friday 17 May 2019.
Apart from its physical benefits, regular walking can also have a positive impact on a student’s cognitive and academic performance.
The event encourages primary school aged children to build walking into their daily routine, by walking to and from school, not just on National Walk Safely to School Day, but every day.
According to Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, physical inactivity is a major risk factor for so many chronic diseases that can affect children at different stages of their life.
“Primary school aged children across Australia – it’s time to get walking. One in four children in Australia is overweight or obese, and it is expected that numbers will reach one in three by next year,” he said.
“We really need teachers, parents, carers and the community at large to get behind this event and its objectives. The best exercise for all of us is regular walking. Children require at least 60 minutes huff and puff physical activity every day. We should encourage them to include walking at the beginning, during and end of each day – if you can’t walk all the way, use public transport and get off the bus, train, tram or ferry a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to school.”
National Walk Safely to School Day also urges parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and the vitally important road safety message, “Until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road,” Mr Scruby said.
To celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary, schools are encouraged to also host a free healthy breakfast on the day in conjunction with their local supermarket or greengrocer.
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