But will it be different from previous years?
Much has been written about the Covid effects of children missing vital experiences at school due to Covid-created absences. One very positive effect of Covid was that, early on at least in Victoria, there were no cars on our local streets and children could go out and about with their parents and use the streets with much increased safety.
Now that all seems ‘normal’ again, will the community forget the positive aspects and revert to old habits by driving children to school instead of encouraging walking or riding, or even scooting?
The practice of children walking or cycling to school has so many benefits, both for the individual child and for the community as a whole. We’ve highlighted these amazing benefits before. But it’s worth reiterating them so we don’t go back to our old pre-Covid ways. Check these out:
- Too much traffic?
- A short Filmfest
- A very special event?
- Getting Physical
- Out of the mouths of babes
Importantly, these benefits are backed by Australian research and expert opinions:
- Improved Physical Health Walking or cycling to school provides children with a daily dose of physical activity, which can help them maintain a healthy weight and improve cardiovascular health. According to a study by the Australian Government Department of Health, “regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood.”
- Enhanced Mental Health and Learning Walking or cycling to school has been shown to improve children’s focus and concentration in the classroom. A study by the University of Western Australia found that “students who walked or biked to school demonstrated better cognitive function and were more alert in class compared to their peers who were driven.”
- Increased Independence and Self-Esteem When children are allowed to walk or cycle to school, they develop a sense of independence and self-esteem. This can be particularly important for children who do not have a lot of freedom or control in other aspects of their lives.
- Reduced Traffic Congestion and Air Pollution The more children who walk or cycle to school, the fewer cars on the road, which reduces traffic congestion and air pollution. According to the New South Wales Government’s Environmental Protection Authority, “traffic is the leading environmental cause of death for children and young people.”
- Safer Communities Walking and cycling routes to schools that are safe, accessible and well-lit can help create safer communities. According to a report by the Victoria Government’s Transport Accident Commission, “students who walk or bike to school are more likely to feel connected to their community and less likely to experience bullying or other negative experiences.”
In conclusion, there are numerous benefits to children walking or cycling to school instead of being driven. By encouraging children to be active and engaged in their communities, we can help to promote their health and wellbeing, as well as make our communities safer and more environmentally friendly.
- Australian Government Department of Health, “Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General”
- University of Western Australia, “Active Transportation and Academic Performance”
- New South Wales Government’s Environmental Protection Authority, “Healthy Cities and Urban Development”
- Victoria Government’s Transport Accident Commission, “Creating Safe, Walkable, Bikable Communities”
Overseas Sources include:
- National Institutes of Health, “Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General”
- University of Illinois, “Active Transportation and Academic Performance”
- World Health Organization, “Healthy Cities and Urban Development”
- National Center for Safe Routes to School, “Creating Safe, Walkable, Bikable Communities”
It’s compelling evidence. But are our local and State Governments really listening? Their budgets and actions don’t seem to indicate they have heard the message well enough.