It’s almost that time of year again – students will soon be going back to school. And while many parents and guardians of students within the Halton Region may be stressing about how their children will be getting to school (who can drive what days, when will the bus pick them up, etc.), the Halton District School Board (HDSB) is encouraging students and their parents to walk to school if possible.
Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the HDSB, issued a letter on the HDSB website highlighting the benefits of walking or wheeling to school this fall.
“I fully appreciate that driving your child to school is sometimes unavoidable,” Millersaid in the letter. “We all lead busy lives and it is not easy to get ourselves and family members organized in the morning to walk to school or to the bus stop. Inclement weather, safety concerns, the morning rush to work or appointments, and having children who attend different schools are some of the many reasons why parents/guardians drive their children to school. Although this is not an exhaustive list, as a parent, I understand that walking or wheeling to school may not be top of mind due to many other stresses in our lives.”
Regardless, Miller outlined and highlighted a few benefits of walking or wheeling to school. With the first being physical activity.
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“Only 35 per cent of Canadian children achieve the recommended daily physical activity,” Miller said. “This lack of activity can be linked to several adverse effects, among them obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Activity and exercise [are] excellent for higher academic performance and just 20 minutes of walking has been shown to result in higher reading and math levels.”
Miller went onto explain that physical activity can also help improve self-confidence and positive emotions.
In his letter, Miller then touched on the impact vehicles can have on the environment.
“There is no question climate change is occurring, and equally there is no question car exhaust is a major contributing factor,” Miller said. “A car idling for 30 minutes a day adds 393 kg of greenhouse gases to the environment. We have many cars in our school parking lots idling while dropping-off or picking-up students.”
With that said, however, Miller reiterated his understanding of the challenges that come with getting students to school.
“However, the benefits to having individuals walking and/or wheeling are both tangible and immense,” Miller said. “By driving our children, we are negatively impacting the future environment in which they will live and work.”