When planning to walk to school or anywhere, it’s important for you and your child to be prepared. Begin teaching pedestrian safety at a young age and continue to refresh their knowledge as they get older. When walking to school, know the potential dangers by familiarizing yourselves with the route to school. Pick a route that is direct and avoids crossing too many streets. Always cross at designated areas; it’s important to teach your child to cross the street safely. OSTA has created walking route maps to help your child walk to school safely. Walk your route a few times before school starts so you can time it.
Meet a friend at the same time every day and walk together.
Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective wear, especially at dusk or when it’s dark.
When there’s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic in a single file.
Only cross at intersections or street corners. Look in all directions before crossing the street and make yourself big. Cross with a crossing guard or at crosswalks if possible.
Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
At crosswalks and crossing signals, push the pedestrian button. Only cross when the traffic signal has changed to the walk symbol.
Watch for cars backing out of driveways – If you see red or white lights, don’t cross the car and make sure the driver sees you.
Avoid distractions, like texting or wearing earphones. Keep headphones, cellphones and toys inside your backpack.
Always walk your bike or scooter when crossing the street.
Remember: Look and Listen!
Walking to school is a wonderful way for students (and sometimes parents!) to get physical activity every day. Students who have expended some energy, and breathed in some early morning fresh air, are more ready to learn. By reducing vehicle traffic around schools, it is safer for children and improves air quality for all.
Canadian children are sitting too much and moving too little. By encouraging walking to school you’ll be helping your child work towards a happier and healthier lifestyle. Physical activity helps children learn better, solve problems easier, and develop healthier brains.
Children who walk to school:
Walking to school also benefits parents:
More than one-third of Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from transportation. Every time you drive your child to school you are contributing to more emissions and pollution in Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, 2015). Fewer children being driven to school helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution around the school.
Congestion and unsafe driver behaviours are common around schools. A recent study in Toronto observed dangerous driver behaviour at 88% of participating schools.
You can change that one step at a time!
Help your child become more active by encouraging them to walk to school. Not only is walking fun and enjoyable but it is also a great way to fit more physical activity into their day!
Let’s get more children walking to school!