LOCAL schools across the Eastern Shore and greater Hobart area have walked the talk, lacing up their shoes and hitting the pavement to participate in National Walk Safely to School Day.
Held across the nation on Friday 17 May and celebrating its 20th year, National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that raises awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long-term wellbeing of children.
As part the campaign this year, parents, caregivers and teachers are being urged to take a more active role in ensuring that children are getting enough physical activity every day.
This call is made following the release of a new national research survey, developed for kids by kids, that found 86 per cent of Australian children believed physical activity was important for their health and wellbeing.
Despite knowing the benefits, only 12 per cent of child respondents reported accumulating the recommended 60 minutes of huff and puff physical activity every day, and just four per cent met the suggested guidelines of no more than two hours of daily recreational screen time use.
The findings were released earlier this month by Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) and its Youth Advisory Council, comprising 10 children aged nine to 17 years who co-developed the ‘Your Voice’ kids’ physical activity survey.
More than 700 young people from across the country took part in the survey, which explored children and youth’s perceptions of the importance of physical activity and the barriers and enablers to them being more active.
Dr Natasha Schranz, co-chair of AHKA and research and translation manager for the Heart Foundation, said the findings highlighted that kids understood the importance of being active and wanted to be more active, yet there were barriers preventing them from doing so more regularly.
“Parents, caregivers, teachers – and society as a whole – have a vital role to play in ensuring our young people remain active on a daily basis,” she said.
“It’s absolutely essential they lead the way in promoting healthy habits for our kids early on so these become part of their everyday lifestyle in years to come.”
Dr Schranz said National Walk Safely to School Day, which was held on Friday 17 May, provided a great opportunity for families to put their best foot forward and start prioritising physical activity.
The annual event encouraged all primary school-aged children and their families to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle by walking and commuting safely to or from school.
Dr Schranz said it was imperative we continued to acknowledge that our young people had an important role to play in getting Australia as a nation more active.
“Our kids have spoken out on the importance of physical activity, and they want their voices to be heard,” she said.
“The most recent AHKA Physical Activity Report Card showed a decline in Active Transport to and from school with the grade slipping from a C– to a D+.
“However, even with this failing grade we have not seen a societal shift that puts physical activity front and centre as a priority each day.”
Dr Schranz also referred to recent data released by Sport Australia from its AusPlay survey that showed walking as the most highly participated in activity by adults (18+ years).
“However, it seems that this love of walking is not being encouraged during the morning and afternoon drop-offs and pick-ups, which is unfortunate given that walking to or from school is one of the easiest ways to get kids moving more each day,” she said.
National Walk Safely to School Day also encourages healthy eating, reduced car dependency, better use of public transport, cleaner air and road safety.
For more information, visit www.walk.com.au/wstsd.
Caption: Young Lachlan and Clara Hall got into the spirit of Walk Safely to School Day, held on Friday 17 May.