This story has been updated
Across Canada, less than 25 per cent of students use active transportation to get to school, but Island Health, the University of Victoria and the Capital Regional District are trying to change that.
This spring they’ve launched the Way2Go! campaign that encourages children and parents to use people-powered measures to get to school. This includes walking, biking, public transportation and drive-to-five options, which allow parents to park their cars nearby and walk the rest of the way.
“In Victoria we’re trying to encourage it as much as possible,” said UVic researcher Claire Sauvage-mar. “We want to get more and more students to use the great resources Victoria has, like bike paths and drive-to-five locations.”
The campaign is all about getting kids comfortable in their environments and making the idea of active transportation more popular, she added.
“The majority of children are not getting as much physical activity as they should,” said Dr. Dee Hoyano, medical health officer for Island Health. “We know there’s a lot of benefits for the physical health, mental health and school performance.”
Rauchene Spearing is a mother of two young children, ages six and eight, and she walks with them to school every morning. “It’s just a great way to start the day and get active and get some fresh air,” she said. “My girls just love it. They’re happy to walk, much happier to be outside than in a car.”
Taryn Scott uses the drive-to-five option and parks near Pemberton Park before walking to Margaret Jenkins Elementary School. “We are avoiding the crazy traffic around the school and getting some exercise,” she said. “The kids love it because we get to meet up with friends we wouldn’t see otherwise.”
Grade 2 student Isla Ross has always biked or walked to school. As a bit of an expert, she notices the benefits and really likes the commute. “I like it because I like the fresh air.”
Way2Go! has a contest on now through May 17 to see who is using active transportation the most. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences using “#way2go,” or they can make posters if they don’t want to participate online. For more details, visit http://way2go.islandhealth.ca/