Active & Safe Routes to School Peterborough (ASRTS) is a group of local organizations addressing health and environmental issues related to school travel.
GreenUP, Peterborough Public Health, City of Peterborough, STSCO, Peterborough Police, Crossing Guards of Peterborough, and Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board all come together to provide resources in the community to encourage active transportation and help youth become familiar with and educated about active and sustainable transportation options.
ASRTS has a vision for all students to have the opportunity to walk, roll, or bus to and from school as a part of their daily school experience. This vision was born because we know that walking, rolling, or busing benefits students, makes school zones safer, and is good for the environment.
ASRTS wants to help students, but we can’t do it alone! It will take schools, parents, caregivers, and the community working together to get kids to and from school in an active way — it’s worth it!
ParticipACTION has released a new report card on physical activity for children and youth; it might not surprise you to see that our youth are once again failing to reach their daily recommended physical activity levels.
Only 35 per cent of five to 17 year olds get enough physical activity. Interestingly, ParticipACTION suggests that adding more physical activity into kids’ daily routines will help them to be more successful in the classroom, on the field, and with their friends. A routine of walking, rolling, or busing to school can be a great way to keep kids’ bodies moving during the school day.
ASRTS Peterborough frequently hears about the positive impact that walking, rolling, and busing has on students. Teachers often report that active students are able to focus better in class. Active students communicate that they feel good after their trip to school and have fun walking or rolling, often meeting friends and engaging in the community during their trip, while parents and caregivers enjoy the time spent outside being active with their children.
In their recent report, ParticipACTION reaffirms what teachers are saying, reporting that “Kids’ bodies have to move to get the wheels in their brains turning.”
As more children walk, roll or bus to school, the school zones become safer with less cars clogging up the school zone. There are a growing number of studies identifying that pollution levels are rising around schools due to increased car use. When kids walk, roll, or bus to school they are more active and ready to learn, the school zone is safer, and it helps the environment.
This all sounds great, but in Peterborough approximately 33 per cent of students are still getting a drive to school. ASRTS Peterborough wants to decrease this number so that all students can experience the benefits of walking, rolling, or busing to school, but we need help from families, caregivers, schools, and the community, to do so.
How can ASRTS Peterborough help?
Each year, ASRTS works with local schools to implement programs that educate and encourage students to walk, roll, or bus to school. Our programs and supports include:
- Car Free Wednesdays is a yearlong school-wide campaign, that includes incentives, prizes, and support for schools to encourage walking, rolling, or busing to school.
- On The Bus is a fun and interactive introduction to Peterborough Transit provided to Grade 3 classes in the City of Peterborough.
- Grade 8 Transit Quest encourages grade 8 students to use Peterborough Transit by providing them with a FREE transit pass for March Break.
- School Trip by Transit encourages the use of Peterborough Transit for school trips, providing support to teachers to educate students about how to use transit.
- Teacher Resources are available at peterboroughmoves.com, including lesson plans, route to school planners, and more.
How can the school community help?
- Open your school to the student’s efforts: Does your school have bike racks? Is there a place for students to store their scooters? Is there a bike pump available for students to use?
- Encourage the school to engage in an Active & Safe Routes to School program; take advantage of the support and resources offered through ASRTS.
- Integrate active transportation into a variety of curriculum areas. Lesson plans and support activities are available through Physical and Health Education Canada, Ontario Active School Travel, and Active & Safe Routes to School Peterborough.
- Consider organizing an event for the whole school. For example, International Walk to School day (first Wednesday in October) or Winter Walk Day (first Wednesday in February) are great days to promote active transportation and ASRTS can help!
- Be an EcoSchool, check out Ontario EcoSchools Environmental Stewardship, Active Transportation Campaign Kit at www.ontarioecoschools.org.
- Investigate the Ontario Active School Travel website at www.ontarioactiveschooltravel.ca to tap into their knowledge and resources.
How can families and caregivers help?
- Plan ahead! Explore the route to school, test to see how long the trip takes, and plan your morning accordingly. Plan for the weather and dress to enjoy the trip.
- Model the behavior and walk or roll with the kids.
- Make it fun. Plan to meet up with friends or explore fun places along the route.
- Park and stride. If it is too far to walk to school, park a few blocks from the school and walk the rest of the way.
- Start small. Pick one day a week to commit to walking or rolling.
- Group up. Coordinate with friends and neighbours for the walk, or set up a walking school bus.
For more information on Active & Safe Routes to School Peterborough’s programs and resources visit peterboroughmoves.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can help to have fewer cars in the school zones and more active students.