Vernon Students and Families Choose Active Transportation to School | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon Students and Families Choose Active Transportation to School

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Vernon
November 16, 2017 - 3:34 PM

During the month of October the City of Vernon partnered with four elementary schools to celebrate International Walk and Wheel to School Month (iWalk/iWheel), an annual global event that promotes the benefits of active travel to school. Students who walked, biked, or scootered to school won prizes at celebration stations hosted at Ellison Elementary, Harwood Elementary, Okanagan Landing Elementary, and Ecole Beairsto Elementary. A total of 547 students chose active transportation to school during these events.

The celebration at Okanagan Landing Elementary was particularly successful with nearly half the student body walking or cycling to school. In 2011, when the City first undertook school travel planning with Okanagan Landing Elementary, only 9% of students walked or cycled to school.

“On October 13th, Okanagan Landing Elementary, with support from the City of Vernon, held a celebration for students and families who walked or biked to school. Despite the wet weather, we had overwhelming participation, with over 70 students biking to school and about half of our total student population participating. We even had one student bike all the way from Coldstream to the Landing. As a result, we noticed much less traffic in our parking lot and students were more alert and ready to learn when school started. It was exciting to see so many parents joining in on the event and either biking or walking with their child to school."  - Brian Smyth, Principal, Okanagan Landing Elementary

Canadian children are less active than a generation ago. The 2016 ParticipACTION Report on Physical Activity for Children and Youth gave Canada a D grade in active transportation with only 24% of Canadian children walking to school. The City of Vernon began school travel planning in 2010 to increase the number of children walking and biking to school in our community. At that time, all participating schools fell below the already low national average for active transportation.

Walking and cycling have benefits beyond physical health: students who walk to school are more alert and attentive in class, are less stressed, and have stronger connections to their community. Teaching safe walking and cycling skills reduces families’ reliance on vehicles and supports the transition to a sustainable multi-modal transportation network.

“We are thrilled with the results of this year’s International Walk and Wheel to School Month events” said Angela Broadbent, Active Transportation Coordinator with the City of Vernon. ”Every school that participated saw a significant increase in walking and biking. This goes to show that events like iWalk/iWheel can trigger a behaviour shift that will have a lasting impact on our community.”                  

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