Walking to school is a great way for children to be physically active. Not only is it associated with improved physical and mental health, but it also contributes to safer school zones, by reducing traffic volumes at and around schools.
The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark (LGL) District Health Unit, in partnership with active school travel stakeholders in Brockville, Smiths Falls and Mississippi Mills, was successful in receiving $100,000 over two years to pilot the “Walking the Rural Way” Project. This project will operationalize “community tailored” Walking School Bus (WSB) models, using trained adult leaders to walk with elementary school children, on established routes to school. Similar to a yellow school bus, a WSB has designated “bus stops” and “pick up times”, where children and families are encouraged to join.
The project is supported by Ontario Active School Travel, a program of Green Communities Canada with funding from the Government of Ontario. “The goal of this project is to increase active school travel opportunities for elementary school students by strengthening our partnerships, and creating environments that support and encourage students, and families to be active on their school journey”, says Tawnya Boileau, School Health Coordinator with the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. “As a result, the project has the potential to develop a sustainable, evidence- informed model that can be expanded within our communities and shared beyond.”
The following six schools will participate in the first year of the “Walking the Rural Way” Project:
- Westminster Public School (Brockville)
- Commonwealth Public School (Brockville)
- Chimo Elementary School (Smiths Falls)
- Duncan J Schoular Public School (Smiths Falls)
- St. Francis de Sales Catholic School (Smiths Falls)
- R. Tait McKenzie Public School (Mississippi Mills)
For more information regarding the “Walking the Rural Way” Project, please contact WalkingSchoolBus_LGL@healthunit.org or (613) 345-5685 ext. 2226.