In less than fifty years, walking to school has gone from a normal, everyday occurrence, to a controversial act that is either courageous or questionable, depending on your perspective. During that time, road safety in North America has improved considerably - but children's rates of active travel, and physical activity and health more broadly, have decreased alarmingly.
Active and Safe Routes to School is a movement to turn back the clock on this particular issue. It recognizes that our children have lost things that are fundamental to their healthy growth and development - independence, freedom of movement, and a connection to their community - that we need to help them reclaim.
There's no magic bullet to get children and families out of their cars and back in their sneakers. We're working with schools through events like Bike to School Week, and one-at-a-time through School Travel Planning, to help them uncover the barriers keeping their students from walking and cycling, and work to overcome them.
But flashy efforts like Safe Kids Worldwide's interactive infographic are definitely not part of the solution: they fan the flames of fear parents have about their children's safety, and place the burden to "stay safe" on the most vulnerable members of our community.
So go ahead, click the link, and learn about the many ways children are at risk on their streets and in their communities. Then please, do your part, as a parent, driver, advocate, etc. to keep them safe - while at the same time helping them be active, healthy and happy.
And if you have a minute, drop Tamara Grider, Director of Public Relations at Safe Kids Worldwide an email, and let her know that more fear is not the answer.
Of course, we were most interested in what students thought of the transportation situation at Langara, so we spent the afternoon in breakout groups discussing issues related to active travel to and from campus. Key stakeholders from the College, including staff from TravelSmart joined the class to help lead the discussion and explore potential solutions.
The session ended with a list of action items for Langara as it applies to improving active travel on and off campus. We're excited for the next steps!
Thanks again to Kathryn Nairne for the invitation and Raymond Yeung and Marriee Devereaux for participating in the workshop.