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Walkers take steps toward a healthier future

CLARENCE City Council Alderman James Walker has stepped out with his children in support of National Walk Safely to School Day.

Alderman Walker joined his children Cam, aged nine, and Anna, aged seven, in walking to school earlier this month in the lead up to the main event, which will take place on Friday 17 May.

National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that raises awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking – especially to and from school – can provide for the long-term wellbeing of children.

The annual event, which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary, encourages primary school-aged children to build walking into their daily routine by walking to and from school, not just on Friday 17 May, but every day.

Cam and Anna attend St Cuthbert’s Catholic School in Lindisfarne, which will be joining in the national event by encouraging the whole school community to get into the spirit of the day and walk to school.

Alderman Walker said he believed Walk Safely to School Day was a “great idea” and walking to and home from school was something his family was trying to do regularly.

He said this would be the first year they were participating on the actual day.

“Sometimes events like this provide a little push to help you make a positive change to your family’s routines,” he said.

“Being active is important for everyone, and activity in children improves mood and sleep while reducing stress and anxiety.

“Walking also gives me a chance to look at what council infrastructure could be improved to help school communities walk safely to school.”

Alderman Walker encouraged families to get behind the initiative.

“The more families that participate, the safer it makes pick up and drop off for those families who can’t walk to school,” he said.

“It also important to remember that walking part of the way is okay – you can still benefit by just parking further away from the school gates.”

Alderman Walker’s tips for first timers:

You want the first walk to school to be an enjoyable experience for you and your children.

Kids feet spend most of their growing years in school shoes, so ensure their shoes are fitted properly with enough room for the toes to move freely and not be squashed at the top or the sides. Shoes should also fit comfortably around the heel and not be too loose or too tight.

It’s also important that the straps on kids’ backpacks are properly adjusted and worn on both shoulders. Before setting off, make sure their bags aren’t too heavy.

National Walk Safely to School Day also promotes improved diets by asking schools and P&Cs to host a healthy breakfast, positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car dependency and the vitally important road safety message, ‘until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road.’

Top five tips for parents to get their kids walking to school

Walk some or, if you can, all the way to school.

Get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.

Leave the car at least one kilometre away from school and walk the rest of the way.

Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier to fit in a walk to school.

If you can’t walk in the morning, walk home after school.

For more information on Walk Safely to School Day, visit www.walk.com.au/wstsd.

Caption: Clarence City Council Alderman James Walker with children Cam, aged nine, and Anna, aged seven, who attend St Cuthbert’s Catholic School in Lindisfarne.