THUNDER BAY - There’s nothing like a brisk autumn walk to fill you full of energy and prepare you to take on the day and students across the city are being encouraged to take advantage of this healthy and environmentally friendly way to start the day.
EcoSuperior celebrated International Walk to School Day on Wednesday to kick off Walk to School Month, or Walktober, an initiative of the Ontario Active School Travel project and Green Communities Canada.
“We really encourage kids and families to walk to school throughout October as much as they are able to,” said Caroline Cox, program coordinator with EcoSuperior. “So if it’s one week or walking Wednesdays, that’s fantastic.”
Students at St. Margaret Elementary School took advantage of a new route around the school on Wednesday, which includes new signage on Margaret Street.
This year six schools have signed up for Walk to School Month and Cox said she is anticipating more will join.
“We’ve been running four walk and wheel events for just over a year now,” she said. “We’ve had lots of schools get on board. We’ve had two dozen schools get on board throughout a whole series of events.”
The benefits of walking or wheeling to school are many, including physical exercise, improving the air quality around the school, as well as better performance in the classroom.
“Walking to school has so many benefits and we know it is on the decline, it is trending down,” she said. “We want to see more families walking or wheeling to school. There are great benefits, but test scores and better attention at school are ones that don’t get talked about a lot.”
For Grade 5 student, Claire Whalley, walking to school definitely makes her feel better throughout the day.
“I feel like I have more energy and I feel like if I have a test or something I will do better,” she said.
And she notices a lot of the other benefits while out walking and around the school.
“I enjoy what you see and walking with your friends,” she said. “There’s less pollution from the exhaust coming out of the back of the car from driving.”
Claire said she will encourage her fellow classmates to walk to school as well and show them the route to take.
Cox said she hopes other schools and families will choose to walk or wheel to school this month and continue on so they too can experience the many benefits.
“Students are so excited about it,” she said. “I love talking to students and they always tell me who they walked with, what they talked about on their journey. Students do find it really interesting and stimulating and fun.”