FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2013
NS lags behind national average; more support needed
The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) welcomes a report card released this week that shines light on the need for more youth to walk and bike to school. The EAC has several solutions to get children and youth walking and cycling and help families make it a part of their daily routine.
“We can encourage students to use active transportation to school and make it safe and convenient at the same time,” says Jennifer McGowan, Youth Active Transportation Coordinator at EAC. “The province has set an admiral goal in its Thrive strategy of ensuring that every child will learn to bike and it pledges to support safe routes to school efforts.”
Active Healthy Kids Canada’s 2013 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth focuses on the decline in walking and cycling. It also stresses the implications of this issue on overall physical activity levels of children and youth. The report card gives Canadian kids a D- for physical activity levels. Across Canada, 62% of children and youth use only inactive modes of travel to school. In Nova Scotia, the figure is higher at 73%. Read the full report at www.activehealthykids.ca.
“There is no one person or entity we can blame for these disappointing statistics,’” McGowan says. “Ultimately, families, schools, school boards, municipalities and the Province have roles to play in ensuring that our young people can safely and conveniently walk and bike where they need to go. The EAC can only do so much with our limited capacity.”
If parents are concerned about Johnny or Jane walking alone, they can organize a Walking School Bus – an adult-led walking group – with neighbours. Families or schools can register Walking School Buses with the EAC and receive resources to help organize their walking groups.
Schools and school boards can make it easier and safer for students to walk or wheel to school by supporting School Travel Planning. Two dozen schools throughout NS are currently involved in the EAC’s School Travel Planning project, the creation of active transportation plans involving the school, parents, municipality and police in solving traffic and access problems.
The Province and municipalities can play a role through policy and funding for safe walking or cycling to school. This includes ensuring that schools are located close to students’ homes so they can actually walk or wheel there, and making pedestrian and cycling safety education more available, such as the EAC’s Making Tracks initiative.
EAC offers its child and youth active transportation initiatives with the support of the NS Department of Health and Wellness and other supporters. Learn more about these initiatives at www.saferoutesns.ca.
“We keep hearing reports and studies that walking and biking to school is beneficial on so many levels,” says McGowan. “The evidence is there, so now we all have to do our part to ensure it actually happens.”
Photos are available upon request. For more information, contact: Janet Barlow, Active Transportation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
(902) 442-5055 (office), (902) 717-4408 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer McGowan, Youth Active Transportation Coordinator (Mainland NS), Ecology Action Centre
(902) 442-5055 (office), (902) 981-6102 (cell), email@example.com
Jennifer Morrison, Youth Active Transportation Coordinator (Cape Breton- Eastern NS), Ecology Action Centre
(902) 322-0583 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org