Turn the school run into a walk

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Heart Foundation and Walking SA logos

This Walk to School Safely Day (Friday September 11), the Heart Foundation and Walking SA are urging children and parents to change their habits and get more active as they travel to and from school.

Heart Foundation CEO SA Imelda Lynch is encouraging families to put their health first by seeking out more active ways to do the school run and leave the car at home.

The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children get at least an hour of physical activity a day, but only one in five Australian children are currently meeting the guidelines.

“This is a concern because physical activity is good for children’s physical health, it reduces the likelihood of childhood obesity, and it is also important when it comes to their mental health, academic performance and concentration in school,” Ms Lynch said.

“Walking, cycling or even scooting to and from school are some of the easiest ways to increase children’s activity levels,” Ms Lynch said.

National data show that over the past 40 years, children walking and cycling to school has declined from 75 percent to 25 percent.

In South Australia on average 52 percent of school children live within two km of their school, but only 20 percent actively travel to or from school. 1

“This figure is worrying but could be improved if the school run was used as a way to incorporate include more activity into the daily routine,” Ms Lynch said.

Parents and caregivers will also benefit if they join their kids walking to school.

“Physical activity can help reduce the risk of heart disease in adults, which is the single leading cause of death in Australia, claiming 48 lives every day,” Ms Lynch said.

Walking SA Executive Director, Helen Donovan, said children who walk to school are happier, healthier, less stressed, and more attentive during the school day. Walking to school also offers the opportunity for strengthening social bonds with family and peers through the incidental chats that naturally occur. These healthy behaviours, when established in childhood, are more likely to be sustained into adulthood.

“Parents want the best for their kids. One of the ways to develop healthy, happy, confident kids is to build a walk into every day,” Dr Donovan said.

“Governments can help by shaping the urban environment for safe, enjoyable walking on connected networks. This requires more investment in pedestrian and cycle paths, safe crossings, and lower speeds on local roads,” she said.

The Heart Foundation is calling for the government to develop and fund a State-wide Walking Strategy. The strategy will aim to get more people walking more frequently including a focus on ensuring safe routes for children to walk to school.

Media enquiries

Emily Goddard, Media Advisor
M: 0432 417 518 E: emily.goddard@heartfoundation.org.au

About the Heart Foundation

The Heart Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the single biggest killer of Australians – heart disease. For 60 years, it has led the battle to save lives and improve the heart health of all Australians. Its sights are set on a world where people don’t suffer or die prematurely because of heart disease.

Find out your risk of heart attack or stroke by using our Heart Age Calculator. For heart health information and support, call the Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12. To find out about the Heart Foundation’s research program or to make a donation, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au

About Walking SA

Walking SA is the not-for-profit peak body that leads, promotes and supports all forms of walking in South Australia, including walking for recreation, transport, health, wellbeing, organised events, adventure, environmental appreciation and fun experiences.

  • Our vision is to see more people walking more

Our members include walking clubs, informal groups, individuals and organisations whose aims and objectives align with those of Walking SA.

We provide leadership by:

  • Promoting opportunities to improve the health and lifestyle of South Australians through walking.
  • Offering expertise, guidance and advocacy for the development and maintenance of safe and supportive walking environments throughout South

To find out about Walking SA, including our database describing over 700 trails in South Australia, visit www.walkingsa.org.au

 

 

  1. GIS Residential data from 26,910 primary school students (2015-2018) and Way2Go school survey data from 11,944 year 3-7 students (2015-2018)

We’re calling on all local governments to prioritise projects that enable walking and cycling

COVID-19 has created a huge increase in walking activity. Walking SA, together with BISA, Bike SA and the Heart Foundation, calls on all local governments to prioritise projects that enable walking and cycling.

During COVID-19, more people have chosen to be active every day in local neighbourhoods. Participation in walking and cycling has significantly increased. The provision of footpaths and safe crossings, open space and access to roads in our neighbourhoods is more important than ever. Walking SA encourages prioritisation of projects that enable active, safe and connected communities.

View statement (PDF)

The call

Letter from Walking SA, Heart Foundation, Bicycle Institute of South Australia and Bike SA.

11 May 2020

Dear Mayor, Councillors and CEO,

In these difficult and unprecedented times, we would like to congratulate you on your continued support of your community.

During COVID-19, more people are choosing to be active every day in local neighbourhoods. Participation in walking and cycling has significantly increased. The provision of footpaths and safe crossings, open space, and access to roads in our neighbourhoods are more important than ever.

We recognise that council budgets have been impacted both by a reduction in some forms of revenue, and by additional expenditure required due to the current situation. As you are re-assessing your budgets for the upcoming cycle, we encourage you to prioritise projects that enable active, safe, and connected communities.

We call on you for your commitment to:

  1. Shovel-ready walking and cycling projects. Increased budgets and commitment to delivering basic, safe and innovative walking infrastructure with construction and maintenance of: footpaths, safe pedestrian crossings and refuges, wider kerb ramps, signalised crossings with a shorter cycle and phasing to suit seniors, vision impaired, people with disabilities and children to safely cross the road
  2. Temporary street closures or shared zones to allow for people to safely walk and ride on local streets during COVID-19
  3. Slower designed streets and speed limit reduction for all people to walk and cycle safely
  4. Wider, connected and safe footpaths (which also allows for essential physical distancing)
  5. Better shading of all paths through tree planting and shading structures
  6. Local mixed used and multi-generational parks, playgrounds, nature play and green space that create community hubs and destinations within walking/cycling distance of homes
  7. Separated walking pathways from bicycles, e-bikes and e- scooters in high traffic or commuter routes
  8. Removal of slip lanes that cause unnecessary risk to walkers and riders, or an addition of zebra crossings until slip lanes have been removed
  9. Commitment to implement your local walking and cycling strategies, preferably integrated into an overall active transport and recreation strategy. Develop strategies if
  10. Liveable and active streets designed for all: children and our more vulnerable walking or wheeling residents
  11. Investment in walking programs (10,000 Steps, Heart Foundation Walking, parkrun and local bushwalking groups) through local funding, resources and supportive

We know how important a safe and healthy community is to you. Walking and cycling facilities are one of the lowest cost services that you can provide to your residents to improve their health and wellbeing, generate better community cohesion and create benefits for local business.

Thank you for your interest in supportive active communities. We would be happy to talk to you about how you can support our organisations and the localised active travel and recreation of neighbourhoods for your residents, businesses, and visitors.

For any further queries, contact Helen Donovan, Executive Director helen.donovan@walkingsa.org.au or 0457 006 620 on behalf of Walking SA, the Bicycle Institute of South Australia, Bike SA and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

On behalf of Walking SA, Heart Foundation, Bicycle Institute of South Australia and Bike SA.

Media Release: This Walktober encourage kids to walk, skip, hop, scoot or ride to school

MEDIA RELEASE

If more kids walked to school each day, then they would be more likely to reach recommended physical activity guidelines, be less likely to be overweight and perform better at school.

About 80 per cent of five to 17-year-olds do not meet recommended physical activity guidelines.

The number of kids using active transport choices to get to school has dramatically declined since the 1970s.  These days, almost a quarter of five to-12-year-olds have never walked, cycled, or scooted to school.1 But three-quarters of kids surveyed would like to.2

This October, Walking SA, Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure’s Way2Go program and the Heart Foundation are promoting the message that we should be encouraging our kids to walk, ride or scoot safely to school. Not only is it more fun for the kids, it means less cars on our roads, and at drop-off points around schools.

“Parents can be great role models for their children by getting out and walking together more often,” said Walking SA Chair, Jeremy Carter.

Way2Go is a statewide South Australian program promoting safe, active and green travel for primary school children and their families.

“We encourage parents to visit our families website to plan safe and active travel to and from school,” Margaret Howard, Manager Living Neighbourhoods and Travel Behaviour said.

“Have a few practice runs over the school holidays and choose a safe route to school.”

Imelda Lynch, Heart Foundation CEO, has been leading the push for more walkable environments in South Australia.

“The Heart Foundation would like to see the development of a statewide walking strategy, that prioritises children’s active travel to school,” Ms Lynch said.

This “Walktober”, Walking SA is asking all South Australians to celebrate Spring by going for a walk and taking a picture with the tag #WalktoberSA. Walking SA is encouraging kids to walk to school by asking them to take a picture along the way. Just use the tags #WalktoberSA and #Way2Go with a short description about the view and it will be eligible to win vouchers from the Scout Outdoor Centre. Parents/Carers can load the images onto Instagram or Twitter or the Walking SA Facebook page.

To help plan your walk to school during #WalktoberSA, visit Way2Go families website www.dpti.sa.gov.au/Way2Go/families/home

For more information about Walking SA, visit www.walkingsa.org.au

For more information and T&C about the “View from my walk” competition visit walkingsa.org.au/walktober

Media enquiries: Jeremy Carter, Chair of Walking SA – 0412 846 576

 

Walking SA is the peak body that leads, promotes and supports all forms of walking in South Australia, including walking for recreation, transport, health, wellbeing, organised events, adventure, environmental appreciation and fun experiences. Our vision is to see more people walking more often. Our members include walking clubs, informal groups, individuals and organisations whose aims, and objectives align with those of Walking SA.

 

New trail: $6m Great Southern Ocean Walk along the Fleurieu Peninsula

Map of Great Southern Ocean Walk

The SA Government has announced an investment in creating the Great Southern Ocean Walk – an upgrade of the iconic Heysen Trail along the Fleurieu Peninsula, connecting Deep Creek and Newland Head conservation parks, and Granite Island Recreation Park.

Parts of the Heysen Trail will be upgraded, and day visitor facility and a fully accessible destination constructed at the heart of Deep Creek Conservation Park to ensure our parks are a place people with disabilities can enjoy. Existing campgrounds and amenities will also be upgraded to cater for growing demand.

The Great Southern Ocean Walk will be a 5-day walk with campsites. Over the past two years the Friends of the Heysen Trail have been involved with the working committee to develop the concept, having previously been involved in providing feedback in the concept research.

The $6 million project is part of the government’s $11.8 million New Parks Investment as part of the upcoming 2019-20 State Budget. The $11.8 million for parks will enhance nature tourism, will improve access, amenities and services in our national parks, and ensure they continue to play an important part in the lives of South Australians, and in building our visitor economy.

Watch the announcement video.
Read the government media release.

View our response, joint Media Release with the Heart Foundation.