The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, in collaboration with several community partners, has launched simcoemuskokaonthemove.ca, a new section on its website designed to promote active school travel as a safe and healthy choice for students and families. The launch coincides with International Walk to School Month in October.
“We know that children in Simcoe Muskoka are not getting enough physical activity to be healthy,” says Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “One of the easiest ways for kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily is to walk and wheel more often to the places they need to go – like school.”
The web section is an easy to use, one stop shop for information and resources on how to get kids to travel to school in an active way. There are even some ideas for families who live in bus zones, or for parents on those days when they have to drive their kids to school.
The benefits of active school travel extend beyond increased physical activity. When more students are walking or wheeling, school zones see a decrease in traffic congestion making them safer. Fewer cars improve air quality, reducing the risk of lung illnesses like asthma while supporting good brain development. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions to help fight climate change which protects both human and environmental health.
“We also know that children who walk and wheel to school can benefit from improved mental health, such as increasing their ability to cope with stress, and improved learning and attention at school,” says Dr. Gardner.
The web section includes a link to information about COVID-19 and returning to school to help parents with their decisions about their child(ren)’s school journey. Choosing to walk or wheel to and from school is a great way to get exercise, fresh air and social time while still physically distancing from others.
On the Move is a collaborative project led by the health unit in partnership with several local school boards, municipalities and community partners, with the goal of increasing the number of students in Simcoe Muskoka using active forms of transportation to and from school.