Maybe the answer to, “How can we get kids back to walking to school?” is, “Um…suggest it?”
what St. Raphael Catholic School in Toronto did. The student-run Heath Action Team pushed for kids at the K-8 school to start walking.Â They held a why-it’s-good-to-walk assembly, they organized official walk-to-school days on the last Friday of every month, and they partnered with Safe Routes to Schools, which did a study of the reasons parents don’t let their kids walk. And? Here’s what Metronews.caÂ reporter May Warren found:
A blast of cold winter weather didnâ€™t stop St. Raphael Catholic School student Ryan Walsh from getting to his classroom by foot Monday morning.
The 12-year-old walks â€œto and from school every day rain or shineâ€ as a student leader of a program aimed at getting other kids to get to do the same.
And, heâ€™s seeing results.
Since the program started in September, the number of students walking to or from school has already increased by nine per cent â€” up from 24 per cent in May 2016 to 33 per cent in October, according to a recent school survey.
â€œWhen we tabulated the numbers it was incredible,â€ teacher Cristian Fazzini said of the initiative, which he said could act as a model for other schools.
But the phys-ed teacher was not exactly shocked. Even before the numbers were counted, heâ€™d noticed a dip in the number of cars around the school and kids taking the bus.
Compare that to this Streetsblog videoÂ of morning drop-off at a school in North Carolina. Granted there, as in Toronto, the Number 1 reason parents drive is that the school is too far away:
But it seems obvious that if a school makes walking a priority and the students talk it up, if nothing else the parents could start dropping their kids off a few blocks away. (Unless they really like spending 20 minutes a day inching forward.)
Bottom line: Schools can encourage kids to encourage other kids to walk to school. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
*And it works