So a couple of days ago I was on Twitter for HaltonParents, y’know, minding my own business, when I stumbled upon this CTV News report, that asks “Are we DRIVING our kids to unhealthy habits?” The report says, “Fewer kids commuting by bike, foot, report finds.” This video sums the report up nicely:
So I tweeted about it. And then I thought, let’s have a conversation about this. What are the barriers Halton parents face when deciding whether to have their child walk or bike to school? I heard lots of reasons – my child is “too young,” fear for children’s safety, mornings are a rush, school is too far away, it’s on my way to work. There are plenty of reasons why we choose to drive our kids to school.
You know that feeling you get when you are so absolutely motivated and excited and 100% believe you can change the world?? That’s me right now! Come and hop on my bandwagon and let’s do something super easy that will help to make our kids healthier by being more active, make our neighbourhoods safer, make some friends and increase that “my community rocks” feeling.
Imagine a neighbourhood where you and your kids know the other kids and parents; where your children have other adults they can trust; and where your kids have solid friendships with other kids in the neighbourhood! (Need another incentive? All of these things happen to be pretty important in increasing your child’s resilience in the face of life’s struggles).
Here’s what I’m proposing – a “walking school bus.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by picking one morning a week (say Wednesdays) where you walk your children to school. Let some other parents on your street and at your school know what you have started, and offer to have their children join you. Suggest they pick one morning a week to commit to walking the kids to school. Just like that you have a walking school bus! Spread the word, chat about it, encourage other families to do the same, and get your child’s school in on the action. Get teens to lead walking school buses for their volunteer hours. Middle school children can likely walk without adults, using a buddy system. If school is a bit far away, consider a “bike train.” Whatever form it takes, it doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to happen.
If school really is too far away, (I’m lookin’ at you, rural Haltonians) are there any places you can walk to? A local store, park or friend’s house perhaps? I challenge you too to skip the car and make the trek! Smile and chat with the people you meet along the way, introduce your kids to their neighbourhood, and take the time to bond with your child.
Have you started a walking school bus? We want to hear from you! There are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:
- Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
- Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
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